Pope Francis has told prisoners that not even the bars of a prison can make the Lord tire of calling us back to him.
Speaking to the prisoners of the Giuseppe Salvia Detention Center of Poggioreale in Naples today, Francis said, “Although we did wrong in life, the Lord never tires of showing us the way back and the encounter with him.”
During his visit, the Pope met with hundreds of prisoners one by one and had lunch with nearly 100 of them during his one-day pastoral visit to Naples and Pompeii.
“Sometimes you feel disappointed, discouraged, abandoned by everyone,” Francis stressed to them, “but God does not forget his children, never abandons them!”
“He is always at our side, especially in times of trial; The Father is rich in mercy. He always turns to us with His serene and benevolent gaze, always waiting for us with open arms.”
The Pope said this is a certainty that gives comfort and hope, especially in difficult and sad times.
“Jesus’ love for each of us is a source of consolation and hope,” he said. “It is a fundamental certainty for us: nothing can separate us from the love of God! Not even the bars of a prison.
Only sin can separate us from Him, he said. But if we acknowledge what we’ve done and confess sincerely, he said, God meets us and forgives us.
“We have to work on this.” he said, recalling the inhumane conditions at prisons he has read about. At the basis of this commitment to do better, Francis noted, “is the conviction that love can always transform the human person.”
With this in mind, he expressed, it becomes possible for “a place of marginalization,” like a prison, to become “a place of inclusion and stimulus for the whole society, because it is more just, more attentive to people.”
He invited the prisoners to live every day, every moment in the presence of God, to whom the future of the world and of man belongs.
“Here is the Christian hope: the future is in God’s hands!” Pope Francis stressed.
“Even in the midst of so many problems, even serious ones, we do not lose our hope in the infinite mercy of God and his providence.”
On ZENIT’s Web page: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-detainees-in-naples