A Catholic Perspective on Crime & Criminal Justice Responsibility, Rehabilitation, & Restoration

(5th in a Series)
Catholic Social Teaching

climate-change

“Catholic Social Teaching offers directions as well as measures for our response to crime and criminal justice.
Human Life and Dignity: Human Dignity is not something we have as children of God, ‘none of us is the sum total of the worst act we have ever committed’…as a people of faith, we believe that grace can transform even the most hardened and cruel human beings.

Family, Community, and Participation: We believe the human person is social. Supporting and rebuilding family ties should be central to efforts to prevent and respond to crime. Placing prisons in remote areas diminishes contacts with close relatives and undermines the family connections that could aid in restoration, especially for young offenders.

The Common Good: According to the catechism of the catholic Church, punishment by civil authorities for criminal activity should serve three principal purposes: (1) the preservation and protection of the common good of society, (2) the restoration of public order, and (3) the restoration or conversion of the offender.
The Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: The principal of Catholic social teaching recognizes that every public policy must be assesses by how it will affect the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society.
Subsidiarity and Solidarity: Subsidiarity call for problem-solving initially at the community level: family, neighborhood, city and state. Solidarity recognizes that ‘we are all really responsible for all.’ Christians are asked to see Jesus in the face of everyone, including both victims and offenders.

Taken from: A statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States.
Do you know?…The U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2006:
Whites: 409 per 100,000
Latinos: 1,038 per 100,000
Blacks: 2,468 per 100,000

For more information to join the Criminal Justice Ministry at our Parish, contact Stephen Perez 915-433-6959.

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The Old Testament provides us with a rich tradition that Demonstrates both God’s justice and mercy. The Lord offered to his people Ten Commandments, very basic rules for living from which the Israelites formed their own laws in a covenant relationship with God. Punishment was required, reparations were demanded and relationships were restored. But the Lord never abandoned his people despite their sins. And in times of trouble, victims relied on God’s love and mercy, and then on each other to find comfort and support (Is 57:18-21; Ps 94:19)
The New Testament builds on this tradition and extends it to Jesus, who Himself was a prisoner, call us to visit the imprisoned and to take care of the sick (including victims of crime), the homeless and the hungry (Mt 25). His mission began with proclaiming good news to the poor and release to captives (Lk 4)

In our day, we are called to find Christ in young children at risk, troubled youth, prisoners in our jails and on death row, and crime victims experiencing pain and loss. Taken from: A statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States.

Do you know?…Between 1985 and 2000 the increase in state spending on corrections was nearly double that of the increase in higher education ($20 billion on corrections, $10.7 billion on higher education). (From “Cellblocks or Classroom” Justice Policy Institute 2003)

For more information to join the Criminal Justice Ministry at our Parish, contact Stephen Perez 915-433-6959.

(3rd in a Series)
Victims of crime in the United States: “In 1998, about one out of every 27 Americans over the age of 12 was the victim of a violent crime (e.g. murder, rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault) and approximately 1 out of every 4 American and Hispanic Americans have been victimized at far higher rates than others.

Also affected by crime are the children left behind by incarcerated parents—children who themselves are at risk for criminal activity. One and one-half million children under the age of 18 have a parent in state or federal prison.

A strong and growing movement has emerged that advocates on behalf of crime victims and seeks to make the justice system more responsive to their concerns. We believe that these efforts deserve support. We encourage and stand with victims and those who assist them. A fundamental moral measure of the criminal justice system is how it responds to those harmed by crime.

Taken from: A statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States.

Do you know?…The United States has 5% of the world’s populations and 25% of the world’s prisoners.

For more information to join the Criminal Justice Ministry at our Parish, contact Stephen Perez 915-433-6959.


(2nd in a Series)
“The causes of crime are complex. The ways to overcome violence are not simple. The chances of being misunderstood are many. With this in mind…we have consulted with Catholics who are involved in every aspect of the criminal justice system: prison chaplains, police officers, wardens, correctional officers and treatment personnel.

As bishops, we offer a word of thanks and support to those who devote their lives and talents to the tasks of protection and restoration. We call on others to join them in a new commitment to prevent crime and to rebuild lives and communities. We also wish to stand in solidarity with crime victims in their pain and loss, insisting that all institutions reach out to them with understanding, compassion and healing.

Taken from: A statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States.

Do you know?…Every year approximately 700,00 persons are released from our jails and prisons. In Texas, the number is 55,000; and in El Paso, 500 each year. Steering Committee meeting, August 26, 6:00 pm in the Peace & Justice Conference Room at the Pastoral Center.

For more information to join the Criminal Justice Ministry at our Parish, contact Stephen Perez 915-433-6959.


(1st in a Series)
“As Catholic Bishops, our response to crime in the United States is a moral test for our nation and a challenge for our Church. As Catholics, we need to ask the following: How can we restore our respect for law and life? How can we protect and rebuild communities, confront crime without vengeance, and defend life without taking life?

These questions challenge us as pastors and teachers of the Gospel.
New approaches must move beyond the slogans of the moment (such as “three strikes and you’re out) and the excuses of the past (such as “criminals are simply trapped by their background”).
A Catholic approach begins with the recognition that the dignity of the human person applies to both victim and offender. We are convinced that our tradition and our faith offer better alternatives that can hold offenders accountable and challenge them to change their lives; reach out to victims and reject vengeance; restore a sense of community and resist the violence that has engulfed or culture.”

Taken from: A statement of the Catholic Bishops of the U.S.

Do you know?…Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American Adults is about 230 million, meaning one in every 99.1 adults is incarcerated.
For more information to join the Criminal Justice Ministry at our Parish, contact Stephen Perez 915-433-6959.

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