Shackled and Duffed: Prisoners Need Pastoral Attention, Vatican Says |TODAY|
Submitted by dan. on 2007-09-24 22:41.
Prison doors may be locked shut, but people must not close their eyes to the inmates behind bars. Vatican officials conveyed that message at an international gathering of prison chaplains in Rome, where Pope Benedict XVI called the pastoral care of prisoners a "vital mission" that deserved the support and guidance of bishops and the involvement of local Catholics.
Father Robert Schultze, director of prison ministry for the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., said restorative justice is perhaps the most important aspect of pastoral care work.
"Everything has to be done in the spirit of justice that restores victims and offenders, restores society that has been hurt" by crime or extreme violence, he told Catholic News Service after attending the Rome congress.
Shutting the door on a prisoner "is not the end of it. It's just the beginning of the conversation, shared prayer" that always will need to continue, he said.
Victims "need to be heard, attended to and taken seriously, and the fact that they have difficulty in forgiving, if at all, needs to be accepted," he said.
Victims need to know that they will not be "condemned as cold and unfeeling" if they cannot find it in their hearts to forgive someone for their loss, he said.
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