What is Justice?

Just below there has been a vigorous discussion about New York State legislation to lift the Statute of Limitations on sex-abuse cases essentiallyon religious institutions and organizations. http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=2955There are many interesting questions raised. Here's one that could use its own discussion:Posted by Robert M. Kellyon March 23rd, 2009 at 8:26 pm Ms. Steinfels wrote:I stick with my conclusion, this is not primarily about justice; its about money.Mr. Kelly: "Probably true. That seems to be whats happening at the moment in NY (and soon, in MA, where similar window legislation is pending). But, I think theres a good reason for the emphasis on the money."Ive looked carefully at one dioceses reaction to the sex abuse crisis (Springfield, MA), and what I found surprised me. Here, there were very few claims dating from around 1994 to the spring of 2002, when the dam broke. But, that did not mean that victims did not bring complaints forward. They were content for many years to bring them to the Diocesan Misconduct Commission."And yet, time and time again I read in accounts of the dealings of the commission that victims did not want money. They did not want SOL changes. Nor did they even want to go to court. What they wanted was justice, i.e., the assurance that their perpetrators would be outed and never again be able to commit crimes. This level of justice was never reached. I think that helps to explain where we are now."Ms. Steinfels, do you think the right measure of justice has been reached? And if not, how do we go about getting there, if not though the civil law?"Steinfels: I don't think the right measure of justice has been reached. I am going to think about that this morning , and I'll come back to this. What does justice mean in these cases? What would justice look like? Is justice in these cases individual or collective? ETC.Go at it! (on these kind of questions, please).

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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