I was attending a talk by a Jesuit priest on Reconciliation and Justice. Faith and Justice were themes embraced by Jesuits for many years. Reconciliation was added as major theme in one of the General Congregations (most significant meeting of Jesuits. But there was always the question; does reconciliation means we should stop the fight for justice? Are reconciliation and justice the opposites? (I don’t say all Jesuits understood this way, it might be a confusion in some minds atleast)
Catholics are used to this word in the context of confession (sacrament of reconciliation). In Psychology and other branches we hear about reconciliation with self and others. But the question remains, is reconciliation and justice the opposites.
In this context, an explanation given by the same priest, which makes a lot of sense. Reconciliation is a theological concept. It means creating sustainable structures where justice will be maintained. An eye for eye justice wont give us peace anytime. Jesus commands his disciples to forgive. But surely it doesn’t mean you neglect justice and practice the systems of injustice.
For eg: When Dalits are harassed by others for being lower caste, reconciliation involves creating a structure where they will be considered equal. Surely this is not an easy task. It goes much beyond reparations and revenge, but creating a future of equality. Work for justice can be occasionally building walls between the oppressed and oppressor; reconciliation will grant justice and try to build bridges between two people who are no longer oppressor and oppressed.