The best things in life are free; and in the Diocese of Oakland, California, legal counsel and advice are offered at no charge.
The Pope Francis Legal Clinic opened on June 7 in Oakland on the property of the Cathedral of Christ the Light. The clinic offers mediation, reconciliation and resolution to any adult in the community. It provides counsel and advice to various issues such as housing, employment, and financial disputes.
Tom Greerty, director and co-founder of the clinic, told Catholic News Agency, “So many people have legal problems because law is everywhere. What we try and do is relieve the hardships of people.”
Greerty recently retired from his legal practice and the idea of building a free legal clinic came to him while he was earning his master’s degree in theological studies. His professor, Sister Marianne Farina, asked him to do a project which would be consistent with his job.
Bishop Michael C. Barber was the one who gave the name of the clinic. He said he wanted the clinic to be about mercy, not just the law.
“He has emphasized he wants this to be a place of reconciliation and a place of mercy,” Greerty said. “He wants us to use our skills to try and get reconciliation for people.”
Currently, ten experienced lawyers volunteer their time to offer free legal counsel.
“We try to honor the memory of Pope Francis, and what he is trying to do with the Year of Mercy, to try and help people in a merciful way with the law,” Greerty said.
Catholicnewsagencycom. (2016). Catholic News Agency. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/inspired-by-pope-francis-california-legal-clinic-offers-free-services-81726/
Catholicvoiceoaklandorg. (2016). Catholicvoiceoaklandorg. http://www.catholicvoiceoakland.org/2016/05-23/frontpage1.htm