At 4.30pm this afternoon, Pope Francis arrived at the Administrative House of Isernia, where he was welcomed by the Bishop of Isernia-Venafro, H.E. Monsignor Camillo Cibotti and other dignitaries.
The Pope then met with the detainees in the inside courtyard of the Administrative House.
After the tributes of the director and of one of the detainees, the Holy Father was to give the prepared remarks below. A Vatican spokesman said he spoke entirely off the cuff instead, but his words probably related to the following:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I thank you for your welcome. And I thank you for the witness of hope that I heard from the words of your representative. I was also struck by the director’s greeting with the word: hope. This is the challenge, as I said two weeks ago in the Administrative House of Castrovillari: the challenge of social reinsertion. And for this, there is need of a course, of a path, be it outside, in prison, in society, be it within oneself, in one’s conscience, in one’s heart.
What is important is not to stop – when water stops it becomes stagnant – but to walk, to take a step every day, with the Lord’s help. God is Father, He is mercy, He always loves us. If we seek Him, He welcomes us and forgives us. “He never tires of forgiving”: it is the motto of this visit. He makes us rise again and restores fully our dignity. God does not forget us. There is a passage in the Bible, of the prophet Isaiah, which says: Even if a mother were to forget her own child – and this is impossible – I will never forget you (cf. Isaiah 49:15).
One can walk with this trust, day by day. And with this faithful love that accompanies us, hope does not disappoint.
Let us pray together to Our Lady, our Mother, to help us and protect us. Ave Maria …[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]