Dr. William O'Neill, S.J.

Partnering North American Jesuit Universities: The Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University

Title and Précis:

Restorative Justice in Catholic Social Teaching: Implications for Deliberative Democracy

     This project will examine issues surrounding restorative justice from the distinctive perspective of modern Catholic social teaching. Questions such as “What are the prevailing ethical rationales implied by emerging restorative practices (as in Rwanda)?” and “How do they ‘fit’ within the broader politics of modern, liberal democracies?” will be addressed through evaluative interpretations. After exploring practices of restorative justice, broad approaches to social reconciliation, and a number of religious implications regarding these approaches, a critical, rights-based ethical assessment grounded in modern Catholic social teaching will be constructed as a via media between liberal and communitarian perspectives of retributive and restorative justice.


     William O’Neill, S.J. is a member of the Society of Jesus, Associate Professor of Social Ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, and Visiting Professor of ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology (Hekima) in Nairobi. He received his Doctoral degree from Yale in 1988. His writings address questions of human rights, ethics and hermeneutical theory, social reconciliation, and refugee and immigration policy.  He has worked with refugees in Tanzania and Malawi and has done research on human rights in South Africa and Rwanda.

News and Updates

  • Fr. O'Neill is on the national board for the Society of Christian Ethics and participates in both the national and regional meetings
  • He is also co-convener - with Prof. Stephen Pope - of the Restorative Justice Interest Group at the Catholic Theological Society of America and participates in both the national and regional meetings
  • Fr. O'Neill regularly speaks at parishes in the Oakland and San Jose Dioceses, and recently delivered a plenary address on Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration for the Oakland Diocese