Temper justice with compassion

Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD / October 25, 2020 / PRISON AWARENESS SUNDAY

The heart-rending case of the detained activist Reina Mae Nacino and her three-month-old baby River went viral at the deplorable way she was treated. The poor child after she was born on July 1 was separated from her mother and left to the care of the grandmother. For the absence of proper maternal care, the baby died on October 9.

What’s very depressing was that Nacino was given only six hours in two days to attend her wake. Moreover, the police denied a request to remove Nacino’s handcuffs so she could embrace her baby’s coffin.

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Although considered a dangerous detainee charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a non-bailable offence, the police did not consider the mother’s human right to take care of her fragile baby.
Likewise, the handling of Nacino as detainee was grossly unjust since she is still an accused, therefore, “presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.”

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Justice tempered with compassion for Nacino could have won her back from her life of activism.
This was how the Lord Jesus converted sinners and zealots, like the dishonest tax collectors Matthew and Zaccheus, the good thief and the adulterous woman.

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Today is PRISON AWARENESS SUNDAY. It comes at a time when various things should be done for the welfare of detainees and prisoners.

For instance, in the above case, shouldn’t there be a facility provided for mothers to take care of their babies while in detention at such a critical period in rearing them?

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Fr. Anthony Ranada, SVD, former chaplain of Quezon City jail in Kamuning, told me repeatedly how most of our jails in Metro Manila are cramped and congested–a problem which spawns riots, gang wars and epidemics.

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For instance, Quezon City Jail can accommodate only 700 inmates but presently there are 3,400 or even more now! To think that majority of those behind bars are still undergoing litigation.
This, too, is the woeful condition of many of our jails all over the country. CALLING LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS TO ACT ON THIS FESTERING PROBLEM.

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In a Catholic school wherein a group of social concern students were discussing about what apostolate they would do, some included regular visitation of the local prisoners.

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However, one of them vigorously objected, saying, “Why visit them? They deserve to be there and suffer for their crimes.”

One of them replied, “We do not think that way. We live by a Christian attitude,” that is, never give up on criminals and offenders.

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In Jesus’ parable of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25, 31 ff.), one of the works of mercy the Lord will ask as a requirement for entering the Kingdom is visiting prisoners (“When I was in prison, you visited Me”).

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. A newly appointed chaplain of a prison accompanied a convict to the electric chair. What will he say to console a man about to die? “Goodbye?” “Take care?” “See you later?”

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The young priest was at a loss. Finally, as the convict got to the electric chair, the priest more nervous now patted him on the shoulder and blurted out: “MORE POWER TO YOU!” (Poor chaplain, he meant well but his words could also mean “more electric power”!).

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We thank the Government for abolishing the death penalty. Christ’s teaching is: only God, the Creator, can take away life. Moreover, most of those convicted are the poor.

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THANK YOU—chaplains, wardens, prison guards and other jail management personnel in your difficult, not to mention, dangerous work.

Likewise, we thank the interfaith organizations and NGOs who regularly and, without fanfare, work among the inmates.

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FAMILY TV MASS–is aired on 5PLUS Channel 59, Cignal Cable Ch. 6, Free TV Ch. 41 at 6-7 a.m. Sunday and anytime at “MCFI SVD Media” Account on YouTube and Facebook Page. Priest presider: FR. DONDION SORIANO, SVD.

The FAMILY that prays together stays together.

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