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The RoundTable

Mercy and Justice Shall Meet

Spring 1991


Major Articles

  • False Dualisms – Pat Coy
  • Building Communities of Justice – Teka Childress
  • Justice and Mercy Lived – Interviews with Karen House guests by Virginia Druhe
  • The Works of Mercy – Rick Sieber
  • The Gospel of Jesus and Justice – Matthew Schmitt, SJ
  • The Compassion of God – Terri Bednarz, RSM

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Artwork by Jeff Finnegan
  • Why This Issue – Mark Scheu
  • Centerfold – Artwork by Jeff Finnegan
  • From Central America – Carol Donohue, CPPS
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Tim Pekarek
  • RoundTable Talk – Barb Prosser

Why This Issue:

Justice and mercy. What is the relationship between these two concepts, or should I say ways of being? God is just, but God is also merciful. Is this possible? Is there real justice in mercy? Jesus tells us that God "makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust:' Despite scripture, I am sometimes tempted to forge justice by punishing the unjust. Then justice would reign, and all would be well, yes? Then I recall the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn:


If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere· insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the dividing line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy a piece of one's own heart?


The articles in this issue have done much to further my understanding of mercy and justice. Pat Coy opens the issue with a reflection on how the works of mercy and justice should go hand in hand in the Catholic Worker movement. Matthew Schmitt, S.J., finds the gospel source of justice in right relationships where one does not exercise power over another. Terri Bednarz of the Sisters of Mercy draws upon her community's tradition to demonstrate why mercy is at the heart of the divine. Teka Childress describes how the works of mercy and justice are intertwined in her life. Carol Dohohue reports from Latin America of her experiences of working with despairing youth in Bolivia. Tim Pekarek, who returned last summer, presents the Karen House article while Mary Ann McGivern keeps us up-to-date on Little House. The issue is concluded by Barb Prosser, who calls US all to conversion as she movingly describes an act of violence in her life.


At the heart of the issue are a series of conversations that Virginia Druhe had -with several previous guests at our house of hospitality. She discovers that in their lives each has come to identify mercy with justice. Again, although we may initially think that we are serving the poor, it is they who have the most to impart to us.


-Mark Scheu



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