Cardinal to Lawyers: Reflect on the Place of Mercy in the Administration of Justice

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Justice and mercy were the twin themes of Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ homily given at this year’s ‘Red Mass’ – an annual service in Westminster Cathedral for members of the legal profession at the beginning of their year – 1 October.

The Cardinal encouraged the lawyers in the congregation to create ways in which they can “season justice with mercy”.

He also juxtaposed those who experience God’s mercy in the Gospels, through Christ, with what can sometimes be seen outside UK courtrooms:

“Think of the many scenes we see outside court rooms across this land: burdened people demanding justice; broken-hearted people lamenting that they have not received justice; those for whom the verdict has been satisfactory still embittered and unable, often, to speak of forgiveness. This is a society, wrapped up in its demands for justice, yet rapidly losing any sense of mercy.”

He challenged the legal professionals to be missionaries of mercy and to live out the relationship between mercy and justice:

“Seek the place of mercy in the way you treat everyone you meet in your courts, your chambers, your offices, be they defendants, witnesses, judges, jurors, fellow barristers and solicitors, clients, staff of any kind – from clerk to cleaner.

“Please, welcome into your hearts the Holy Spirit who keeps us ever sensitive to the suffering and weakness of others, respecting always whatever human dignity demands as their due. This is our calling, our mission, as today we thank God for the vocation to serve justice and in doing so serve the well-being of our society.”

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