The Human Person and the Justice That Heals Seminar on ALTERNATIVES TO IMPRISONMENT & RESTORATIVE JUSTICE Bayview Park Hotel, Roxas Blvd., M.M. March 12, 2009
Introduction • Apologia: not a theologian, not a philosopher • Talk on the human person as there would be no adequate understanding and appreciation of restorative justice until we recognize the dignity of every individual human being. From such understanding, the ethical considerations of the human person follows. • Limitations & Scope: Christian anthropology
The Dignity of the Human Person • Old Testament: starting point for Christian thought has been the first chapters of Genesis Gen. 2:7 “And now, from the clay of the ground, the Lord God formed man, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and made of man a living person.”
What do these words reveal? • God’s twofold action: the creation of the body and the creation of the soul (corporeal and spiritual); body & “ruah” • By the union of these two principles, man becomes a living person,a creature entirely animated by a principle linking him to the nature of God
The creation account neither affirms nor denies that the human body might have been formed at a lower level of life; nor does it assert or deny the gradual evolution of matter to a point of perfection at which the organism became fit to house a rational soul. Rather, what it asserts is the special intervention of God in the creation of man, i.e., the creation of the human soul was the immediate act of God.
Man is sacred from the fact of his creation. There is no area in man’s life is that is not stamped with divine activity and purpose.
Gen. 1:26 “And God said, ‘Let us make man, wearing our own image and likeness...’” • “wearing... our likeness”: not equality but a similarity of nature between God and man • “made in God’s image...” man is endowed with a vital principle of spiritual order, giving him both his stability and his intelligibility. • not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession, of self-transcendence and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons
Gen. 1:26 “... Let us put him in command of the fishes in the sea, and all that flies through the air, and the cattle, and the whole earth, and all the creeping things that move on earth ...” • Here we see the superiority of man over all creatures. He is the center of creation. • “Believers and unbelievers agree almost unanimously that all things on earth should be ordained to man as to their center and summit." (Gaudium et Spes, n. 12) • God's purpose in creating man: to admit him to intimacy with his creator and to assign to him the role of carrying out in history the divine plan.
Gen. 1:27 “From the beginning, male and female he created them." • God did not create man a solitary being. In his innermost nature, man is a social being; and if he does not enter into relations with others he can neither live nor develop his gifts. (GS, n. 12) • The partnership of man and woman constitutes the first form of communion between persons.
Gen. 1:28 “Be fertile and multiply!” Blessing or imperative/command? “Mehret euch!” = “Be more!” God wants us to be more, to flourish. God wants us to be more of ourselves!
Gen. 1:31 “God saw all things that He had made and they were good!” God delights in us. God does not make trash.
New Testament • The absolute value of the human person is asserted in the face of whatever human institution or tradition. • The Synoptic gospels emphasize the primal and decisive value of the human person in the face of antihuman valuations added on by deformations of religion. Mk. 7:1-23 Mt. 15:1-20 • the value of the human person is connected with the 'lordship' of Jesus manifested in his free actuations in relation to religious institutions (Mk. 2:13-36) • For a disciple of Jesus, the correct norm for human conduct is the fulfillment of human beings
Preferential option for the weak. • The lived ethics of Jesus is characterized by a preferential option for the weak (the poor, the marginalized, the sinner and so forth). • This ethical characteristic is also a messianic characteristic.
Implications on the Disciple All other things being equal, the believer has to always take the side of the weak and not that of the powerful: • Relating with those who are marginalized for rel. reasons (publicans, sinners): Mk. 2:13-17, esp. v. 17; Mt. 9:10-13, esp. vv. 12-13 • Definition of 'neighbor' as 'the most needy': Lk. 10:25-27 (priority to the needy when preparing a guest list) • Identification by Jesus with the weak: Mt. 10:42; Mt. 18;
Jesus: the ethically normative human being • Mk. 8:34-38: the disciple has to hand over his life as his Master does • Mk. 9:33-37: the disciple should be the servant of all • As Jesus had shown us, our choice should be always what is life-giving and loving.
Respect for the Dignity of the Human Person: Nucleus of Ethics Respect for the personal character of the human life is the structural nucleus of moral life in the sense that the moral life is basically the actualization of what it means to be a person in relation to other persons and sentient beings. The person is the primary subject and object of moral life.
Basic Characteristics of Respect for the Dignity of the Human Person • concrete: it refers not to abstract human nature, but to concrete human beings immersed in complex and conflictive historical realities. • universal: it applies to all persons, rejecting all moralities of clan, caste, nation or any other social grouping insofar as this is closed upon itself. • egalitarian: it affirms the equality of all human persons in dignity, rejecting all discrimination, whether this be based on race, religion, sex, ideology, generation, social class or any other arbitrary criterion
Basic Characteristics of Respect for the Dignity of the Human Person • absolute: it inheres in the human persons precisely as persons, and not for what they possess, nor for what they can give us, not for their physical, intellectual, and social capacities, but for what they are -- persons. • partisan in favor of those who suffer from dehumanizing situations: it has preferential option in practice in favor of the liberation of those human beings whose humanity has been disfigured by dehumanizing situations -- the oppressed, the destitute and other marginalized persons
Relation of the Human Dignity to the Concrete Dimensions of the Human Person Corporeity: human beings exist corporeally. Their bodies are the basis for their human consciousness, and thus, for their personhood. At certain phases of their life cycle and in certain cases which modifications in the configuration of their corporeity make them specially vulnerable to harm (e.g. infancy, old age, handicap) human beings need special protection; they always need food, health care, and respect for their life and physical integrity.
The dignity of the human person is primarily in the level of being and secondarily only in the level of the doing. No human being should be reduced to mere cannon fodder or mere labor power, or to an object of ideological or commercial manipulation.
Social: by nature, human persons are social; they live together and interact. Within society, the rights and responsibilities of persons should be recognized, and as persons they should be active participants in social and cultural life in a relation of equality with other persons.
Reason and Liberty: Human persons are characterized by reason and liberty and are thus called to realize themselves responsibly as persons.
The Dignity of the Human Person and the Criminal Justice System Guide Questions for Reflection: Is the current dispensation/practice of justice system compatible with the Christian thought and belief about the dignity of the human person? Does it affirm and foster the dignity of the human person? How? Be concrete in your examples. What should be done to foster the dignity of the human person in the current dispensation of criminal justice system?