John Schwekler has a blog over at Dotcommonweal about restorative justice in a murder case.

This was also the medieval model: the reconciliation of the family of the victim with the murder was the desired outcome, the state took little role the process.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop recommends this type of justice.

Restorative justice focuses first on the victim and the community harmed by the crime, rather than on the dominant state-against-the-perpetrator model. This shift in focus affirms the hurt and loss of the victim, as well as the harm and fear of the community, and insists that offenders come to grips with the consequences of their actions. These approaches are not “soft on crime” because they specifically call the offender to face victims and the communities. This experience offers victims a much greater sense of peace and accountability. Offenders who are willing to face the human consequences of their actions are more ready to accept responsibility, make reparations, and rebuild their lives.

However, it did not work in the Middle Ages to deter homicide, although it may have prevented feuds from starting; only a determined palliation by the state of capital punishment seems to have  made a big dent in the homicide rate.

Paul recognizes the role of the state in enforcing justice, even through capital punishment through the sword. Catholics seem to have a prejudice against the state fulfilling this function. Mercy and forgiveness are proper to the Christian, but can a state really be Christian?

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