When a crime occurs, we often talk about getting justice for the victims. Too often, this sounds like revenge. I have wondered if it might be more helpful to talk about mercy or justice with mercy.

Of course, we must hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. But just punishing a person doesn’t help the victims, and it doesn’t help the person who committed the crime to get past that event and to move on into a more constructive life. Too often in this country that punishment has been pretty harsh – mandatory minimums for drug offenses, life without parole for juveniles for instance.

The Pope has declared this a year to focus on mercy. I suggest that he was speaking to the whole world not just Catholics. Is this the year, when we can shift our focus from justice to justice tempered by mercy?

This post was written by Jana Miars Minor, Founding Director of Companions Journeying Together. Photo credit: Jeon Han, Republic of Korea: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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