A Tale of Two Cities

Blog by Associate Frank Martens, OPA
Blog by Associate Frank Martens, OPA

While our minds and hearts are focused on Orlando, we are not immune from crime and violence in our own communities.

I live in a Columbus, Ohio neighborhood with very little crime.  But Columbus is not immune from crime and violence. It occurs most often in low-income neighborhoods. So we have two cities, one safe and one not very safe.

“If you want peace, work for justice,” Pope Paul VI said.

Columbus is fortunate to have the BREAD organization (Building Responsibility Equality And Dignity), 45 congregations from diverse faith traditions working together to solve serious problems and create a just society.

A few years ago, BREAD learned that many non-violent first offenders were being incarcerated. BREAD found an alternative approach called “restorative justice” that has worked in other cities to help offending youth get their lives back on track and got our juvenile court to create restorative justice circles. Non-violent, first offenders are diverted away from incarceration, using a process that results in restitution and reconciliation between perpetrator and victim and reduces repeat offenses.

Currently, BREAD is focusing on gang violence. BREAD is pressing to establish an initiative proven to reduce gang violence. Continued pressure has resulted in a commitment by the Safety Director to support this initiative.

Is your parish promoting social justice? If not, in Franklin County, your parish could join BREAD. You could be the catalyst that results in a parish ministry where “justice rolls down like water.” (Amos 5:24) Not in Columbus? The DART Center has similar organizations in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina and Virginia.

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” (The Talmud)

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

4 responses to “A Tale of Two Cities

  1. Thank you, Frank for your reflections. I was not aware of Bread organizing to help our youth. I will pass this on to others.
    Blessings and deep peace,
    Sr. Brigid, OP

    1. Bread needs all of us to strive in our ministry areas to establish relationships with youth, youth leaders, parents which promote trust, hope in the future and a sense of safety for them. This is what our Violence Prevention Mission and Ministry Grants with our Latino population here in Columbus work to do. An article in Tuesday’s NY Times verifies this need.

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