"An Important Step Toward Protecting the Life of the Human Person"
Cardinal Errázuriz Celebrates End of Death Penalty in Chile
Santiago de Chile. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago, president of the Chilean Bishops' Conference, said this week the episcopate "celebrates" the decision of President Ricardo Lagos to sign the law that will change death penalty to life in prison. Archbishop Errázuriz is a member of the Schoenstatt Fathers and was appointed Cardinal in the March consitory. Before the extraordinary consistory of Cardinals that ended on May 24, 2001, he was appointed to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, along with Wilfrid Fox Napier and Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Earlier this year, the Chilean Congress decided to end the legal tradition that accepted death penalty as the top punishment. Under the law, 57 Chileans were sent to death in the last century. The law was finally abolished by the Congress on April 3, and was awaiting the president's signature.
"Since it was an irreversible punishment with which any judicial mistake had no recourse, the dignity of the human person is completely at stake," said Cardinal Errazuriz, who praised Congress and the president for "taking this important step toward protecting the life of the human person."
Since Chileans are concerned by the increase in violent crime in the country, the Congress has also provided stiffer punishments. For example, criminals receiving a life sentence will not be able to receive parole before 40 years. At present, inmates were eligible for parole after 20 years. "This law, while ensuring Chileans that crime will be punished, is also compliant with the need to respect human life as a gift of God," the cardinal said.
With material from CWN
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