Pope opens his home to prisoners visiting Vatican

Angelus News

Several inmates from one of Rome’s prisons met Pope Francis at his home on Monday.

The group (pictured along with their accompanying escort), met Francis at Casa Santa Marta early in the morning before visiting the Vatican museums.

With them, they brought a basket of bread they had baked earlier in the day to give to Francis.

Theirs is a prison for people with addictive disorders. It includes a treatment centre and programme for those with substance abuse problems.

In common with many people during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, the prisoners started baking bread. The prison director Anna Maria Trapazzo told Francis that they will open a store soon and would be happy to welcome him there any time.

Francis has often shown his concern for prisoners.

Meeting them at his home is just one way he shows this.

Last year, for instance, he offered a Mass for prisoners after some inmates from prisons across Italy rioted when they were told the government had banned family visits because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  At least 12 prisoners died within three days as a result of the violence.

The chaplain accompanying the prisoners to the Vatican said fear about the virus contributed to the tense situation.

Other situations where Francis showed compassion to prisoners include choosing a prison chaplain to write the meditations for the papal Stations of the Cross on Good Friday 2020 and – before the pandemic – washing prisoners’ feet at Holy Thursday Mass.

Francis told his visitors that “It is important to seek out what is positive at a time when life is not at its most beautiful. Seek the positive in order to keep going forward.”

The chaplain said the visiting prisoners and all others detainees he has met have deep affection and great esteem for Francis.

He said this is partly because of his many prison visits and also because of his constant calls for treating the incarcerated people with dignity and making a serious commitment to their rehabilitation.



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