Catholic dioceses in California are offering special prayers and Masses in observation of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, an annual event established in 1981 to draw attention to the people and families whose lives have been affected by violent crime.
Pope Francis said “With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenseless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, and those who mourn the tragic loss of their children.”
“The effects of crime can linger long after a person’s physical wounds have healed,” said the Most Rev. Richard Garcia, bishop of Monterey and chair of the Restorative Justice Committee of the California Catholic Conference (CCC). “The people and families affected need to know that they’re not alone, and that they can turn to their Church and to their community for the help and support they need.”
“The Committee has two goals,” said the Most Rev. Amando Ochoa, bishop of Fresno and a member of the Restorative Justice Committee, “to help victims and their families heal from the traumatic effects of violent crime and to break the cycle of crime by helping offenders rehabilitate and reintegrate with their families and communities. “
Each diocesan Office of Restorative Justice provides healing and support for anyone who is affected by the criminal justice system. It focuses first on the victim and the community harmed by the crime, but also on the perpetrator, insisting that criminal offenders come to grips with, and take responsibility for, the consequences of their actions.
Examples of the activities sponsored by diocesan Restorative Justice Offices throughout the state include:
- Archdiocese of Los Angeles: A Healing Dialogue and Action gathering at the Caritas Center, Culver City was held on March 29, the weekend before Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
- Archdiocese of San Francisco: A noon luncheon will be held on April 6 for 40 survivors of violent crime at theArchdiocesan Pastoral Center followed by travel to Sacramento for an April 6-7 Survivors Speak Conference—the first of its kind—which will bring together survivors and people from communities impacted by crime in order to focus on strategies for healing.
- Diocese of San Jose: A prayer service in honor of all victims of violence and all family members and friends who have been impacted by violence will be held at 3:00 pm on April 6 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. A reception and hospitality will be provided after the service.
Diocese of San Bernardino: Bilingual prayers and Masses for victims of violence were held and will be held at:
March 17:Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Indio
March 20: Mass at San Salvador Church, Colton
March 26: Mass at Saint Christopher Church, Moreno Valley
March 31: 7:00 pm Prayer Vigil, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside
April 4: 7:00 pm Prayer Vigil, Holy Family Church in Hesperia
April 11: 7:00 pm Mass, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Rancho Cucamonga
“The concept of Restorative Justice reflects our values and traditions,” said Bishop Garcia. “Our faith calls us to hold people accountable, but also to forgive and to heal. We encourage and stand with the victims of crime, their families and those who assist them. “
For more information about events in your area contact your local Diocesan Restorative Justice Director at www.restorejustice.com.