Over 20 Catholic Charities and community projects attended the launch of CSAN’s new Criminal Justice Forum on Tuesday 10 September to discuss the role of the Church within the Criminal Justice system.
The forum, which will meet four times a year, aims to bring together Catholics working in the Criminal Justice Sector to enable them to share their experiences and give a stronger and more powerful voice to victims of crime, offenders, prisoners and their families.
At the launch event, Catholic charities including Pact, The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, Depaul UK, St Vincent de Paul (SVP), CARJ (the Catholic Association for Racial Justice), Anawim, Anchor House, Women@theWell and Nugent Care spoke powerfully about the work they do to support those within the Criminal Justice system. One of the most moving testimonies came from a former prisoner, who had been assisted by Pact to help transform his life.
Addressing the Catholic charities gathered at Amigo Hall in St George’s Cathedral, Helen, O’Brien, CSAN’s Chief Executive spoke about the “powerful mission” of the Church within the Criminal Justice system noting that “the Church has a role not only in curbing crime by fostering moral responsibility and developing a sense of community, but also in active witness of charity: standing in solidarity with victims of crime, reaching out to offenders and supporting their families.”
“Back in 2004, the Bishops of England and Wales called for the Criminal Justice System to be one that truly offered an opportunity for those within it to transform their lives in their report, ‘A Place of Redemption’. Yet, almost a decade later Catholic charities and prison chaplains are seeing the same problems and voicing the same concerns”.
Delivering the keynote address, Rt Rev Richard Moth, Bishop for Prisons explored the challenges facing the Criminal Justice system including overcrowding in prisons, prison conditions and the importance of successful rehabilitation.
Bishop Moth emphasised the importance of the Social Teaching of the Church and urged Catholics “to do all we can to put that teaching into practice across our society so that those whose lives have been marked by crime will find the “Place of Redemption.”
CSAN’s Criminal Justice Forum was launched at 13.00 – 16.30 on Tuesday 10 September 2013 at Amigo Hall, St Georges RC Cathedral, Southwark, London.
For more information about CSAN’s Criminal Justice Forum, please contact CSAN’s Network Development Officer, Rebecca Hedges.