Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Reconciliation: Called to Heal and Restore

By examining  our consciences to identify those ways in which we are not in right relationship with God and with others, we are challenged to recognize our own participation in the “structures of sin” that degrade others’ lives and dignity.

In the document Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples, which was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we learn that sin becomes manifest in unjust structures.
The collective actions (or failures to act) of individuals create “structures of sin,” which “grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins” (Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis [On Social Concern], no. 36). For example, widespread poverty, discrimination, denial of basic rights, and violence result from many peoples’ actions (or failures to act) because of greed, racism, selfishness, or indifference (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, nos. 2, 16). We are all called to consider how we contribute to structures of sin in our personal, economic, and public choices. For example, do we take into account the treatment of workers when we make purchases? How do our consumption choices contribute to environmental degradation? Are we aware and informed? Do we take the time to educate ourselves about issues that affect the community and advocate on behalf of those who are poor and vulnerable?
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Reconciliation absolves us of our sin, but it does not repair the damage that was caused. We must do what is possible to repair the harm.
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We must work to repair the relationships with God and our neighbors that sin has impaired. We must also consider how we can work to transform the structures of sin that threaten human life and dignity. By making amends and working to build a more just community, we can repair the damage and also restore our own spiritual health.
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Having received the undeserved gift of forgiveness, we are called to extend the same forgiveness and mercy to others. We take up the task of being instruments of reconciliation in our communities and world, working for peace, justice, and love.
NEXT: Anointing of the sick

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