John Paul II Calls for Humane Treatment of Prisoners

Points to Example of St. Vincent de Paul

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 28, 2004 ( John Paul II appealed to prison officials to always respect the human dignity of prisoners.

The Pope made this request when meeting with officials of the Italian Department of Prison Administration, the inspector general of chaplains, and a number of women police officers, assigned to women’s prisons, who have just concluded a year of formation.

“The primary value of the human persons must be the basis for all civil and professional ethics and of all related formation,” the Holy Father said Monday when addressing his guests.

John Paul II took advantage of the occasion “to make a suggestion: Always take care of your spiritual life.”

“In fact, your work calls for a solid maturity that allows you to wed firmness with attention to the individual,” he said.

Addressing the female officers, the Pontiff said “being women certainly helps you, as you have those qualities proper to women that have such a positive effect on interpersonal relations.”

The audience took place on the day in which the Church celebrated the liturgical memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, the great saint of charity.

“He personally suffered the harshness of prison, and he taught the Ladies and then the Daughters of Charity to pay special attention to that category of poor people called ‘convicts.’ He asked them to show understanding and to demand humane treatment for prisoners,” the Pope recalled.

On Sunday, when praying the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed for the “personal and social recovery of prisoners.”

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