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"Bless me Father, for I have sinned," says the penitent to open the dialogue in Catholic confessionals across the globe and throughout the ages. Along with the priest's words, "For your penance... " this encounter is an icon of Catholic life. But does the script, and the practices it signifies, have any relevance beyond the confessional?
In The Politics of Penance, Michael Griffin responds yes. He explores great figures of the Christian tradition--the early Irish monks, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Pope St. John Paul II--to offer surprising insights for social repair. The result is a new ethic, which Griffin applies to contemporary crises in criminal justice, truth and reconciliation, and the treatment of soldiers returning from war.

"In Politics of Penance, far from foisting a facile application of age-old terms to current problems, Griffin develops a robust method whose penetrating grasp of the 'dynamics of penitential actions' enables him to make real contributions to contemporary problems. Politics is a work of reconciliation between fractured parties: action theory and social justice; liturgy and ethics; retribution and rehabilitation... This expertly yet accessibly written book will reward scholars and general audiences alike."
--Bill Mattison, Associate Professor of Theology, The Catholic University of America

"Drawing from Celtic monasticism, Thomas Aquinas, and John Paul II, Griffin shows how Catholic penitential theology and practice can inform the present-day tasks of 'social repair' ranging from reforming the criminal justice system, to working with truth and reconciliation commissions, to accompanying returning soldiers from Iraq. This is spirited, insightful, hopeful reading--and crucial reading for anyone interested in understanding how the church's healing wisdom regarding penance remains both ever ancient and ever new."
--Michael Baxter, Department of Religious Studies, Regis University

"The Politics of Penance is a well-written and highly informative book. Griffin not only carefully retrieves the theological and historical tradition of the Catholic practice of penance, he masterfully displays its rich possibilities for repairing our broken political and judicial systems. A must-read for theologians, political theorists as well as public policy advocates."
--Emmanuel Katongole, Associate Professor, Theology and Peace Studies, The Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame

Michael Griffin, PhD, is Associate Professor of Theology at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana. He is the coeditor of In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez (2013).

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  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Disabled
  • Print Length: 182 Pages
  • File Size: 1,535 KB

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