What is the relationship between mercy and justice in Catholic belief?
The Catholic faith teaches that God is Just. It also teaches that God is merciful.
As a sinner, I should, by the principle of justice, suffer eternal damnation. However, God is also merciful, so He has provided the means for me to avoid that just fate.
Is mercy an exception to justice? Or is mercy an intrinsic attribute of true justice, absent which the notion of justice becomes something else (cruelty? vindictiveness? revenge?)?
How should we, as Christians, hold the notions of justice and mercy? How should we practice them as a society?
Thanks in advance for any help on this matter.