Prisoners Need Hope, Says Benedict XVI

Lauds New Agency That Ministers to Convicts

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is expressing appreciation for a project designed to help prisoners and their relatives.

The Pope expressed this support in a message sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to leaders of the Italian Catholic charismatic movement, Rinnovamento nello Spirito (RnS, Renewal in the Spirit).

On Thursday, the movement announced the launch of the National Reinsertion and Work Agency, in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice and the Monsignor Francesco Di Vincenzo Institute of Human Promotion Foundation, to help prisoners and ex-convicts to join the community after serving their sentences. Some 20,000 members of the movement are currently gathered in Rimini for a national conference that runs through Sunday.

The Pontiff stated, «This project is all the more valuable in the present moment of difficulty of the prison world that has such need of hope and, hence, of the Gospel.» 

The agency is currently working in Catania, Sicily, to give a group of 12 prisoners an education in human, spiritual and professional topics.

Salvatore Martinez, national president of the movement, stated that this project «represents an original operative prototype dedicated to the prison world.»

He explained that it is a «social system» that incorporates «four invariables:» family, church, culture and work.

Martinez added that the agency is a «placement agency» that operates throughout the national territory in order to create ways of humanization and human redemption, professional formation and work reinsertion, through «personalized supervision» and operating as a «business incubator.»

The project is directed toward prisoners with less than three years remaining of their sentence and to ex-convicts at risk of relapse and deprived of supervision for social reinsertion. In addition to Sicily, the project aims to begin soon in four other regions: Lombardy, Veneto, Latium and Campania.  

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