In conjunction with the commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Catholic bishops of California have released a new pastoral resource to help guide pastors in ministering to victims of violent crime. This year is the 40th anniversary of the first National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, established to draw attention to the people and families whose lives have been affected by violent crime. In recognition of those impacted by crime, the Restorative Justice Committee of the California Catholic Conference has issued the following statement:
“Let us care for the needs of every man and woman, young and old, with the same fraternal spirit of care and closeness that marked the Good Samaritan.” – Pope Francis
“Crime, especially violent crime, can leave people and families shattered, looking for answers and unsure of the future. As ministers, we are called to bring compassion, comfort and consolation to those whose futures are uncertain and who grapple with anger, uncertainty and fear.
“National Crime Victims’ Week is a time to focus attention on the needs of our brothers and sisters who have been impacted by crime during the year. Often, unsure, embarrassed or angry, crime victims can be reluctant to let others know what has happened to them or to express their need for help. They can be lonely and unsure yet sitting in our congregations slowly losing hope.
“A new guide designed for clergy, chaplains and lay ministers who accompany crime victims is designed to help in reaching out and accompanying victims. “Pastoral Support for Grieving a Violent Death: A guide for clergy, lay ministers, and community helpers,” includes basic tools and resources for ministers to help them provide compassionate support to individuals and families who find themselves the victims of an unthinkable loss.
“The experience of the pandemic has shown us how important community is. The isolation forced upon the world mirrors the experience of those impacted by crime throughout our society in every year. They grieve and we must do all we can to comfort them during their grief.
“We ask all people of faith to lift our sisters and brothers in prayer during National Crime Victims’ week and to stay vigilant to those who may need our help but remain silent and alone.”
Read Pastoral Support for Grieving a Violent Death A guide for clergy, lay ministers, and community helpers. The guide is available in Spanish (coming soon) and English. There are also Prayers for the Faithful in English and Spanish. And for more information about events in your area contact your local Diocesan Restorative Justice Director at http://www.restorejustice.com/ or visit the CCC website at http://www.cacatholic.org/.
The California Catholic Conference (www.cacatholic.org) is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in California. There are nearly 12 million Catholics in California and the Catholic Church is the largest private provider of health care, social services and education in the State. Catholic institutions include 42 hospitals, which annually assist 7.7 million patients; 12 colleges and universities, which enroll 48,600 students; 115 Catholic high schools, which serve 73,000 students; 558 Catholic elementary schools, which enroll 162,000 children; and the 12 diocesan Catholic Charities agencies.