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Pope’s Prayer Intention for May: Administrators of Justice

Vatican City, 30 April 2013: That administrators of justice may act always with integrity and right conscience.Judges play an essential role in civilized societies. Judges interpret the law in difficult cases, punish offenders, and give relief to those harmed unjustly. The world needs judges of integrity and well-formed conscience who cannot be swayed by money or power. Pope Benedict taught that a judge should sentence a criminal with the main purpose of re-educating and reforming him. He said, “It is not enough that those found guilty of crimes be simply punished: it is necessary that in punishing them, everything possible be done to correct and improve them. When this does not happen, justice is not done in an integral sense.”
The former Pope commented that rehabilitation is in society’s interest as well as the prisoner’s. “The prisoner’s personal need to undergo in prison a process of rehabilitation and maturation is actually a need of society itself, both because it stands to regain someone who can make a useful contribution to the common good, and also because such a process makes the prisoner less likely to reoffend and thus endanger society.” Within the vast range of problems that the practice of justice creates in our world, as a virtue that inclines us, and requires us, to give to each one what is his, the Pope takes note of a specific, practical aspect, and asks our prayer for those who administer justice, in particular forms and at different levels. That is, he asks us to intercede with the Lord for our judges, understanding that term in its widest meaning and reality.
Sadly, judges today very often do not enjoy respect and trust. It is one of the evils of the time in which we live. For a people without confidence in its judges will always be a very wretched people. As believers, we ought to ask of Jesus, who said ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice’, that soon, and everywhere, lost trust in those who have the sacred duty of administrating justice may be regained.
The only way of attaining this urgent and necessary trust is that, as the Pope indicates, those who administer justice may do so always with integrity and good conscience. As regards integrity, may they distance themselves from any kind of arbitrary abuse of the power that the administrator of justice holds in his hands, and as regards good conscience, may they ensure the faithful following of the order desired by God, who reveals himself in it and by it tells us what is good and just and always calls us ‘to do good and avoid evil’.
Former Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske knows that not only is the rehabilitation of the criminal important but also the reparation of the broken relationship. She works around the world promoting “restorative justice,” which seeks to involve the offenders in repairing the damage they have done to victims and communities.
Both rehabilitation and reparation are necessary in the administration of justice. We pray with the Pope that judges and prison officials may always look upon the people in front of them with “respect for human dignity and human rights,” seeing them as made in God’s image and redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus.


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