Prison Ministers: No One Is a Throw-Away for Jesus

Lament State of Jails in Latin America and the Caribbean

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, DEC. 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- "For Jesus, no life is a throw-away," affirmed a group of prison ministers reflecting on the state of jails in Latin America and the Caribbean.



This affirmation was part of the final declaration read Friday at the end of the 6th Latin American and Caribbean convention on prison ministry, held all last week.

Participants affirmed that they are "called to be missionary disciples of Jesus Christ so that our peoples have life in him."

They said they take up the "dream of God as our mission in the realm of prisons, that is, in a reality that strikes at every sector of the population, but especially the poorest, given that violence is a product of injustice, and all of us are responsible for the system of exclusion in which our peoples live."

Citing the document from the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, the prison ministers said that "we have the said privilege and paradoxically, the grace, to be witnesses of the fact that the immense majority of the prisons of our continent are inhuman compounds, characterized by trade in weapons and drugs, overcrowding, torture, organized crime and the absence of humanization programs."

The prison ministers denounced a prison system they characterized as "contrary to the plan of God."

Referring to a statement from Pope Leo the Great, they affirmed, "Jesus was so human, so human, as only God can be human."

"He assumed all of our reality," they continued, "he was incarnate, becoming one of us, and from there, he freed us. Because of that, we want our mission to be deeply incarnated, fully assuming all realities, also those of the prison."

The ministers affirmed that they want God's dream to be their own: "That jails wouldn't exist -- for this, the prevailing model of society in our continent must change."

In particular, the conference participants said it is "fundamental and urgent that the governments of our countries give priority and invest in quality public education, especially for the poorest and most marginalized sectors."