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Florida demise row chaplain given Guardian of Life Award from Pontifical Academy

(RNS) — Dale Recinella, a Catholic lay chaplain on Florida’s demise row, was awarded the first-ever Guardian of Life Award from the Pontifical Academy of Life on Tuesday (Sept. 28). Recinella, the first-ever recipient of the brand new award, accepted the glory on the academy’s normal meeting in Rome.

For greater than 20 years, Recinella had been providing pastoral care and spiritual training to inmates in solitary confinement at Florida State Prison in Raiford, close to Jacksonville, which homes the second-largest demise row inhabitants within the United States.

He additionally supplied deathwatch ministry to these awaiting scheduled executions. This work included non secular preparations on the day of execution, accompanying inmates to their ultimate goodbye with family members, presence at execution and pastoral take care of the household post-execution.

During his acceptance speech, Recinella mentioned he and his spouse have many “baptismal godchildren” on demise row. He mentioned that he asks the lads why they need to grow to be Catholic, they usually say, “as a result of that’s the church that wishes me.” 


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Recinella, 69, advised Catholic News Service that he considers himself semi-retired and has already ceded his position as demise row chaplain in Raiford to a former NFL linebacker, which he mentioned the inmates are very enthusiastic about. Catholic leaders in Florida, he added, are actively looking for others to pursue jail ministry as a occupation.

Before his work as a demise row chaplain, Recinella was a company and finance lawyer. He holds a J.D. from Notre Dame University Law School and a grasp of theological research from Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology.

The Pontifical Academy for Life is the Vatican’s faculty for selling a constant life ethic that opposes abortion, capital punishment and assisted suicide. According to the academy, the Guardian of Life Award is meant for individuals who have “distinguished themselves of their non-public {and professional} lives for vital actions in assist of the safety and promotion of human life.”  

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, mentioned that whereas Recinella’s option to function demise row chaplain was not straightforward, “it was important to carry consolation to those that have been violently torn from this world.”


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The Catholic Church has not supported using the demise penalty besides in uncommon circumstances since 1995, when Pope John Paul II addressed capital punishment in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. In a gathering organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization in 2017, Pope Francis mentioned, “The demise penalty is inadmissible as a result of it’s an assault on the inviolability and dignity of the particular person.” 

Recinella mentioned the award is an announcement by the Catholic Church on the significance of the lives of the women and men on demise row world wide.

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