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    Argentina Approves Law on Spiritual Assistance for Prisoners

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    A Christian senator in Argentina gets approval for a law on spiritual assistance for prisoners.

    Héctor Bonarrico, the Christian senator from the province of Mendoza in Argentina, authored a bill which allows religious institutions to provide spiritual guidance to prisoners. Approved by the Argentinian parliament on September 2, the law permits members of government-registered religious groups to share the faith to inmates, reports Evangelical Focus.

    Religion not only acts as an expiation of guilt, but it also makes the deprivation of freedom tolerable and generates a change. Religious discourse enables new ways of being, thinking and living in prison. —Article 1 of Law 8,173 of the Argentine Law

    The new legislation states that, “Religion not only acts as an expiation of guilt, but it also makes the deprivation of freedom tolerable and generates a change. Religious discourse enables new ways of being, thinking and living in prison.”

    The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the level of stress among prisoners. In Latin America, families and prison ministers have been banned from visiting detention centers to limit the risk of the inmates contracting the deadly virus.

    Recently, several riots occurred in Argentinian prisons in protest of the overcrowded conditions and the potential of the inmates to be super spreaders of COVID-19.

    Argentine Bishop Jorge Garcia Cuerva, vice president of the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, said the prison ministry in the country has been helping the families of inmates in obtaining good and hygiene kits to be delivered to the prisons, reports Crux Now.

    “We’ve been in virtual contact with detainees — they have been allowed to keep smartphones so they could communicate with their families during the pandemic — and supported all their self-organization initiatives,” he said.

    Jesuit Father Luis Arriaga, a human rights specialist and president of Iteso University in Guadalajara, Mexico, said, “The pandemic brought prisons back to the public debate. From a Catholic viewpoint, we must ensure that the prisoners have human dignity, with proper housing, food, water, hygiene and basic information from the outside.”

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