Religion Teacher John Whittaker spoke at the Society of Catholic Social Scientists 25th Anniversary National Meeting at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio on October 28. The conference explored Catholicism’s role informing discussion on key social issues, including American politics, human rights, business ethics, the relationship of the Church and state, and the economy.
John delivered a talk on his paper, “Practicing Reconciliation, Forgiveness, and Mercy,” which explores the theology of Pope Francis as the framework for the implementation of restorative justice, a holistic approach to healing and reconciliation within the modern-day criminal justice system. John believes that Christian “reconciliation, forgiveness, and mercy are essential to unifying diverse peoples” and, therefore, more suitable for building and maintaining a thriving social community than the current “vengeance-based” criminal justice system.
While John argues that restorative justice should be applied in individual criminal cases, it is most commonly used on a grand scale to heal communities that have experienced mass atrocities. Modern-day South Africa and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the United States are examples of communities that are engaged in the process of restorative justice.
John teaches social justice to junior students in Religion III.