As a society, where did we get the idea that some people are more desirable than others? We all are constantly judging and ranking people in the order of our perceived importance. Our thoughts are enforced by the political discussions around us, our judicial system's tone of "guilty before proven innocent," immigration status, monetary worth, education level, appearance, and on and on.
The Gospels are filled with words of love and support for the least among us. We are called to be people who forgive and restore order.
"Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us..." (Eph 4:30 - 5:2)
We have several articles on restorative justice in this newsletter. Restorative justice focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community. Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions. This is not "touchy feely"; it is hard work, as are the words of the Gospel.
We are grateful to those who practice restorative justice and call us to be a society based on a restorative model. We are all equally desirable and loved by God.
In this August 2012 e-newsletter you will find:
CMN news: new 'renewing a culture of life' publication available
'RENEWING A CULTURE OF LIFE: THE DEATH PENALTY, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE & CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING'
This booklet is a publication of Catholic Mobilizing Network, produced in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Peace, Justice & Human Development. Its purposes are to incorporate recent papal statements on the issue of the death penalty, to record the gains that have been made toward the goal of ending capital punishment in the United States, and to provide data related to this progress. This booklet aspires to fully embrace the commitment to the sanctity of human life that is central.
Copies of the booklet can be ordered by completing this order form.
CMN news: Download New 'DEAD MAN WALKING' One-Act Play Discussion Guides
DEAD MAN WALKING ONE-ACT PLAY SUPPLEMENTARY DISCUSSION GUIDES (IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH)
Last month CMN released the new “Dead Man Walking" One-Act Play by Josh Goode (in English and Spanish). The play text is available at no cost as a PDF. To obtain either version, simply send a request to the CMN Office. Details on how to do so are below.
To facilitate discussions for youth groups, and as a classroom teaching aid, CMN now has two question sets and answer guides based on the One-Act Play. One set contains 24 questions and the other is a quiz of five questions. There are answer guides for both sets of questions. To view both question sets in English, click here. To view them in Spanish, click here. To obtain free copies of the answer guides for the English question sets, as well as the English text of the play, contact Sr. Kathie Uhler at the CMN Office. To receive the answer guide or the play text in Spanish contact Sr. Ilaria Buonriposi at CMN.
The Montana Abolition Coalition: A Collaborative Approach to Ending the Death Penalty
By Katie McKeown and Steve Dogiakos, Montana Abolition CoalitionWe have a history of small but important victories in the abolition movement here in Montana. The Montana Senate has now passed a bill to replace the death penalty with life without parole for three sessions in a row. In 2007, the Senate was controlled by Democrats, while in 2009 and 2011; Republicans held the majority. We continue to make concerted efforts to reach out to conservatives, liberals, and everyone in between. We believe that a true, lasting victory is one that has widespread, bipartisan support, based on sound public policy decisions that appeal to the broadest possible spectrum of Montana citizens. Those of us in the Montana Abolition Coalition come to the table for a variety of reasons, and our supporters reflect the strong diversity of our coalition.
The Montana Abolition Coalition is a non-profit coordinating a statewide effort to replace the death penalty with life without parole. The Coalition works with religious groups, human and civil rights groups, victims’ organizations, conservatives and others to educate and mobilize Montanans on the death penalty issue. We also coordinate a victim support and advocacy group called Montana Family and Friends of Homicide Victims, which does not take a position on the death penalty, as well as an organization called Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty. We attend conferences for Montana’s law enforcement and corrections personnel in order to learn more from members of these communities about helping to formulate strong public policies that support their efforts and allocate resources wisely, rather than wasting time and money on death penalty cases.
Montana is geographically the fourth-largest state in the union, but we only have one million people living here. Those of us lucky enough to live in Montana love our wide open spaces and big sky, but the long drives between communities can cause difficulties for statewide campaigns. As a result, we have staff based across the state of Montana, from Missoula in the Southwest to Billings in the East, from a little town called Choteau on the Rocky Mountain Front to Helena, our state’s capital. Our team’s geographic diversity helps us reach a larger audience and allows for authenticity in reaching out to community members - we are a part of these communities, and we share a common background and common concerns with the people who learn about our public events or hear about our efforts in the media.
Our coalition has a strong history of collaboration with numerous groups, but one group in particular worth mentioning in this forum is our relationship with the Montana Catholic Conference. As the public policy branch of the Catholic Church in Montana, the Montana Catholic Conference works under the direction of the Roman Catholic Bishops. Both bishops’ leadership and support have been invaluable in our work to achieve abolition of the death penalty. In the course of the past several years, Catholic parishes and individuals have hosted, organized, and attended many death penalty educational events. Film screenings, discussion groups, and letter-writing parties have all helped educate and spread the word about this important issue. Most notably, numerous Catholic parishes and organizations across the state over the past several years have hosted speaking events featuring death row exonerees, murder victim family members, and death row family members.
In early 2013, the Montana legislature will again consider a bill to abolish Montana’s death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole. As in the past, Montana’s Catholics will raise their voices with Protestants and Evangelicals, human and civil rights groups, conservatives and liberals, Eastern and Western Montanans, victims groups and law enforcement advocates, in the call to end capital punishment. Together, we will end the death penalty in Montana once and for all.
For more information about Montana’s efforts to replace the death penalty with life without parole, visit our website or call the Montana Catholic Conference at (406) 442-5761.
montana catholic conference: playing a leading role in the abolition effort
The Roman Catholic Bishops of both Montana dioceses (George Leo Thomas of the Helena Diocese and Michael W. Warfel of the Great Falls Billings Diocese) are very supportive of the Montana Abolition Coalition’s efforts to abolish Montana’s death penalty. They have directed the Montana Catholic Conference to play a leading role in the abolition effort and have testified multiple times before the judiciary committees. Bishop Thomas wrote an article recently in which he acknowledged the fact that the death penalty has recently become a vital issue to the Catholic church and that some Catholics wonder about the Church’s commitment to ending the death penalty:
"The thoughtful Catholic struggles with the seeming shift in Catholic teaching, and must ask the question: Why, in recent years, has the abolition movement gained so much momentum? Why has the Catholic magisterium become increasingly vocal in opposing the practice of capital punishment? Why have the Universal Church, in its revision of the Catechism, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, while not ruling out capital punishment altogether, radically shifted the Church’s approach to this highly charged topic?"
He then goes on to explain why the Montana Catholic Conference’s abolition efforts are so vital and in line with Catholic teaching by referencing the teachings of Cardinal Avery Dulles: "In our day," Cardinal Dulles wrote, ""a new recognition of the dignity and inalienable rights of the human person has dawned." Bishop Thomas then lists several of Dulles’ arguments against the death penalty and shares the result:
"Placing all of his arguments in the balance, Cardinal Dulles came to his conclusion: 'The pope and the bishops, using their prudential judgment, have concluded that in contemporary society, at least in countries like our own, the death penalty ought not to be invoked because, on balance, it does more harm than good. I personally support this position as a responsible prudential judgment in the current situation.'"
Bishop Thomas (pictured at left) then concludes with the following charge: "As citizens and their legislators in the State of Montana struggle to understand the grave moral dimensions of death penalty legislation, I hope they find Cardinal Dulles’ prayerful and scholarly analysis and authoritative Church teaching informative and, more importantly, transformative."
Here in Montana, we are grateful for the vital support, leadership, and strong direction from our Bishops as we work to end Montana’s death penalty.
To read Bishop Thomas' statement in its entirety, click here.
Learn more about montana's conservatives concerned about the death penalty group
Another effort to end the death penalty has begun in Montana through Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Their organizational website reflects perspectives from voices in the conservative movement about the injustices associated with the death penalty and its application.
california update: About the efforts of the jesuit restorative justice initiative
THE JESUIT RESTORATIVE JUSTICE INITIATIVE: A LETTER FROM FATHER MICHAEL KENNEDY, SJ - DIRECTOR
So often our society wants simply to punish the perpetrator of a crime in the pursuit of vengeance and retribution. However, punishment on its own fails to address the need for healing, which benefits not only those involved in a crime, but the whole community that is also hurting.
Furthermore, punishment on its own fails to recognize that the offender is also a victim and that we are all part of the solution. As a Jesuit psychologist in Germany recently reminded me: "the healing process is not easy; it's easier to hold on to hate, to live with hate, and to be fueled by hate, but in reality...the only way to survive is to forgive."
JRJI was established in 2009 to provide some balance to this punitive and legalistic approach and offer healing and hope of forgiveness to those who are affected by violence and crime in our society. Through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola we provide a tool where people can start to find healing and forgiveness, and recognize that life has meaning and hope beyond the pain.
Your support in this Initiative, either through prayer or a financial contribution, will enable us to continue this Jesuit work and help restore hope to those who are searching for direction. This work depends on the generosity and prayers of friends, who share this common goal. If you wish to volunteer or give a donation, I invite you to share in the mission of healing and forgiveness for those who are incarcerated, their families, and the victims of crime.
In Jesus the Risen Prisoner,
Rev. Michael E. Kennedy, S.J.
Learn more about Fr. Kennedy and the JRJI here.
Visit the JRJI website.
california update: newspaper article spotlights high school restorative justice program
SCHOOL'S DISCIPLINARY MESSAGE: WE WANT YOU HERE
By Anne Stuhldereher - Previously Published on SFGate.com - June 17, 2012
The head of security at Richmond High School is Darryl Robinson. But everyone there knows him as "Coach D." When he started 15 years ago, fights broke out nonstop. Students roamed the halls. And things didn't improve much over the years. Robinson remembers standing in front of a classroom and asking how many students had ever seen someone get killed. "Every hand in the room shot up," he said.
Robinson and the school took a no-nonsense approach to restoring order. If students fought, they were suspended for five days. If they were five minutes late, they got detention. If they didn't show, they were sent to Saturday school. No-shows to Saturday school were suspended. Last year, with an enrollment of approximately 1,600 students, the school issued nearly 500 suspensions .But the discipline didn't make things better, Robinson admits: "The kids come back, and I guarantee whatever they did will happen again."
Millie Burns, deputy chief of programs at Catholic Charities of the East Bay, wasn't surprised: "Suspensions tell a person: I don't want you here." Still, new federal data show that California schools are suspending students at alarming rates. For the 2009-10 school year, suspension and expulsion rates reached double digits in many districts, sometimes exceeding 25 percent, a spate of punishment that hits minorities hardest.
Black students are about six times more likely to be kicked out than whites in San Francisco and Los Angeles. But there's scant evidence the punishment works. Studies show that frequent suspensions don't increase safety or improve achievement. To the contrary, suspended students are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system.
The problem has caught the attention of state legislators, who are now considering eight bills to address the overuse of harsh discipline and propose strategies to help keep kids in school instead of suspending them. Fortunately, a growing number of schools are pioneering programs that hold kids accountable while keeping them on track.
Read the Full Story
PLAY PROJECT UPDATE: NINTH SEASON ON THE NEAR HORIZON
By Greg Callaghan, National Coordinator, Dead Man Walking School Theatre ProjectWe are gearing up for another exciting school year for the ninth season of the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project! Since the launch of the project in 2004, over 220 schools have participated in this unique theatre experience. We invite prospective high schools and colleges to join George Washington High School in San Francisco, Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y., St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Louis, and many other schools across the country to Make Theatre and Take Action.
We are proud to offer a special One-Act play of Dead Man Walking to church communities, who can join the growing number of people of faith who are exploring the religious, moral and ethical dimensions of capital punishment in the United States.
Young adults, religious education classes or other parish groups who care to join Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, on her journey to expand the discourse on social justice and human rights can take part in this special project.
To see our full calendar or to get more information on how to participate in the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project, please visit our website.
quick quiz: cmn august 2012 newsletter
How’s your recall? Try this QUICK QUIZ on the August CMN Newsletter:
1. Who said: “In light of the Word of God, and thus of faith, life is sacred and untouchable no matter how heinous the crimes.”?
a. Pope John Paul II
b. St. Ignatius Loyola
c. Kenneth Himes, OFM
d. Gino Concetti, OFM
2. Which organization aims to rehabilitate youth facing life sentences?
a. Montana Abolition Coalition
d. The Diocese of Helena
e. none of the above
3. What author’s name in this issue is three men’s names?
4. How many dioceses are there in Montana? Name them.
5. The Montana Abolition Coalition works with:
a. friends of homicide victims
b. conservative politicians
c. corrections personnel
e. all of the above
6. Who wrote “Eyes on Jesus: A Guide for Contemplation”?
a. St. Teresa of Avila
b. Michael Kennedy, SJ
c. Cardinal Avery Dulles
d. Bishop Desmond Tutu
Click here for the answers
August 24-26: CMN will have a presence at the annual conference of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) in Miami, Florida. CALL’s mission is to work within the context of our culture and in communion with our bishops to promote the common good of Latinos in the United States. They serve as a national voice for Hispanics on social justice issues and to impact the national dialogue and its outcome in favor of improving our nation’s policies affecting Latinos.
For more information on the conference, visit the CALL website.
August 29-September 1: CMN will attend the 2012 National Assembly of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Seattle. The theme of this year's event is "Hope in Hard Times: We'll Be There."
For more information, visit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul website.
September 9-13: CMN’s Executive Director Karen Clifton will be participating in a training as part of the Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellowship for Death Penalty Abolition Leaders in Oakland, Calif. Rockwood launched the fellowship to provide powerful and effective training in leadership and collaboration to people around the globe exerting significant influence toward ending the death penalty. This intensive leadership program is designed to teach powerful visioning, listening, speaking, presentation, coaching, team-building and feedback skills to leaders engaged with advocacy and organizing for death penalty abolition. The program includes the Art of Leadership, the Advanced Art of Leadership, a Collaboration Convening, professional and peer coaching sessions, and additional leadership support.
For more information, visit the Rockwood Fellowship website.
September 19-22: CMN's Cathy Jarboe will lead a workshop and talk at the 92nd annual National Council of Catholic Women convention. This year, NCCW is celebrating the commitment, spirituality and energy of Catholic women. The event takes place in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Visit the NCCW website for more information.
September 22: CMN is one of four co-sponsors of an election year lecture, "Jesus and Politics: Does It Matter?" to be held at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church, 9009 Sienna Ranch Road, Missouri City, Texas. The event will take place from 9-11:30 a.m. with a free lunch following. Free admission.
For more information and to download a flyer about the event, click here.
Want to know what else we're up to? Check out a full list of CMN Events.