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Quito – “As Pastors of the Church in Ecuador, we wish to appeal to men and women of good will to give value to human life, to become aware that the human being is not an object to be used and thrown away. If we are aware of the dignity of human nature, we will have the certainty that the hearts of people and institutions cannot be corrupted. This appeal also extends to the authorities, who have the responsibility of seeking social peace as a basis for economic well-being”. Through a statement from the Council of the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador, entitled “Put an end to violence!”, the Bishops make their voices heard, “as believers in the God of life”, after the tragic events that took place in the El Litoral penitentiary in Guayaquil, where 116 inmates died and another 80 were injured in gunfights between rival gangs within the penitentiary on September 30. The news was given by the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, who moved to the port city after decreeing a two-month state of emergency for the prison system throughout the country.
Even Pope Francis, at the Angelus on Sunday, October 3, invited us to pray with these words: “I am very saddened by what has happened in recent days in the prison of Guayaquil, Ecuador. A terrible outbreak of violence between inmates belonging to rival gangs has left more than a hundred dead and many injured. I pray for them and for their families. May God help us heal the wounds of crime, that enslaves the poorest. And may he help those who work every day to make prison life more humane”.
In their statement, the Bishops underline that the high number of deaths cannot leave society indifferent: “Every destroyed existence must make us reflect on which world we are building, which society we want”.
In particular, addressing those who participated in this massacre, the Bishops ask to “put an end to violence and the market of death, and to transform their weapons into seeds of life”.
After expressing closeness and solidarity to the families of the victims, “so that they live these moments of mourning with faith and in peace, and can forgive those who have put an end to the lives of their loved ones”, the Bishops propose to the entire Catholic, Christian and of good will, “a concrete and urgent commitment”: in the month of October, and especially on November 2, the day on which the Church celebrates the memory of all the Dead, carry out days of prayer and reflection on the value of human life in all his expressions: “Dear brothers – they conclude – we invite you to build a culture of peace, based on justice, love, equality and solidarity”.