Pope has special Jubilee Mass for prisoners


Associated Press

VATICAN CITY

Pope Francis had a special Jubilee Mass for prisoners in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, telling them that all people “have made mistakes” and urging them to never give up hope in God’s mercy.

He later urged political leaders across the world to respect the dignity of inmates and offer them amnesty whenever possible.

Wearing green robes and a white skull cap, Francis stood before a congregation made up of some 1,000 prisoners from 12 countries and their families, as well as prison chaplains and volunteers. The event was part of the Vatican’s Holy Year of Mercy, which comes to an end later this month.

“Today we celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy for you and with you, our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned,” he told them. He said while breaking the law involves paying the price, “hope must never falter.”

“Sometimes, a certain hypocrisy leads to people considering you only as wrongdoers, for whom prison is the sole answer,” Francis said in his homily. “We don’t think about the possibility that people can change their lives. We put little trust in rehabilitation ... into society. But in this way we forget that we are all sinners and often, without being aware of it, we too are prisoners.”

Francis has made it a mission of his papacy to encourage greater compassion for the world’s most vulnerable people, including the poor, the sick, the elderly, migrants and prisoners. He also has urged governments to consider granting a Holy Year amnesty to prisoners.

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