Bishop Alejandro Goic, president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, has expressed appreciation for the decision by the country’s President Sebastian Pinera to consider granting clemency to some prisoners on a case by case basis.
Last week the bishops of Chile sent a request to the country’s president asking for the pardon of some prisoners as the country celebrates the bicentennial of its independence.
According to the BBC, the president responded explaining that pardon would be considered individually, in a “very prudent and restrictive manner.” He added that prisoners arrested for serious crimes would not be under consideration.
Bishop Goic told reporters that Pinera’s decision satisfied the bishops, as it puts the issue into the public forum. He said the bishops were not asking for blanket clemency, but rather that the prison system be reformed. “Delinquency is not resolved only by throwing people in jail. There must be an effort to rehabilitate them as well,” he said.
He explained that the bishops’ proposal was of a pastoral, not a political nature. While the bishops initially suggested pardon for some former military personnel, they were not proposing that clemency be granted for those convicted of violent acts against the State, the bishop said.
“Obviously we are going to continue to be concerned about this issue. The Church has always been close to those who are poor and suffering. Why could we not continue exercising our right to express our concern about the anguish of these people?” the bishop asked.
Whether or not we – as the Church – are listened to, “our duty is to speak words of mercy,” he added.