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‘The death penalty was never the solution’

Director of Detention ministry welcomes changes to Catechism

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Deacon Edgardo Farias has directed the archdiocesan Detention Ministry since 2006.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Deacon Edgardo Farias has directed the archdiocesan Detention Ministry since 2006.

MIAMI | Deacon Edgardo Farias, director of Detention Ministry for the Archdiocese of Miami and an advocate for a more restorative penal system, says he and others welcome Pope Francis’ change of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the death penalty.

“I have received many phone calls, text messages and emails from Catholic chaplains of prisons and lay people happy with the news,” Deacon Farias told the Florida Catholic.

The changes to No. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church were announced Aug. 2 by Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (See old and new wording here)

“The death penalty was never the solution for violent crimes. Capital punishment is the ultimate human degradation; a society that applies the death penalty is violent and generates more violence,” Deacon Farias said. “A society should invest more in the prevention of crime. More prevention, less crimes, less imprisoned, less prisons.”

Asked if he has seen firsthand how the death penalty affects families and how it is applied here in Florida, Deacon Farias noted that the application of the death penalty opens more wounds of resentment in the families of the condemned and the families of the victims because there is no process of healing and reconciliation for those affected.

Furthermore, he noted, the declaration of Pope Francis’ modification of the catechism to teach about the “inadmissibility” of the death penalty was not a sudden change, but rather a gradual one “because already the popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were opponents to the death penalty.”

“The death penalty has long been the subject of endless debate. There are discrepancies about the way in which the value of human life must be proclaimed and defended using laws,” Deacon Farias said. “This makes us wonder to what extent current criminal legislation reflects the inviolable nature of human life.”

Now it is explicit that, for the Church, the death penalty is “inadmissible,” the deacon added. “That word is strong because it is an attack on the dignity of human life and the new text still says the Church works with determination for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world.”

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