Before addressing thousands a faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis held an audience with 200 Italian prison chaplains who are in Rome for the National Congress of Italian Prison Chaplains. The Holy Father began his address by asking the prison chaplains to greet all those who are detained, so that they may not be discouraged.
The Holy Father called on the priests to express Christ closeness with gestures, words and with their hearts.
“You can say this: the Lord is inside with them; he too is a prisoner, again today, prisoner of our egoisms, of our systems, of so many injustices, because it is easy to punish the weakest, but the big fish swim freely in the waters,” the Pope said.
“No cell is so isolated as to exclude the Lord, none. He is there, he weeps with them, works with them, waits with them. His paternal and maternal love reaches everywhere.”
Recalling his days as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Holy Father said that he would visit those prisoners who would write to him and now phone calls those who continue to write to him from Argentina. The Pope stated that after he finishes his call he thinks: “Why is he there and not I who have so many more reasons to be there?”
“It does me good to think this: because the weaknesses we have are the same, why did he fall and I didn’t fall? This is a mystery for me which makes me pray and makes me come close to prisoners.”
Acknowledging the demands of their ministry, Pope Francis told the chaplains that their mission is important, one that brings the closeness of Christ to those in need of hope.
Concluding his address, the Holy Father blessed them and invoked the intercession of the Blessed Mother who “is the Mother of all of you and of all those in prison.”
— — —
ON ZENIT’s web page:
For the full text of the Holy Father’s address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-participants-of-the-national-congress-of-chaplains