VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis today spoke of the special place he has in his heart for prisoners, saying “whatever act a prison inmate may have committed, he remains beloved by God.”
Wrapping up his final series of catecheses on the works of mercy, before the close of the Extraordinary Holy Year, the pope dedicated today’s reflection to healing the sick and visiting the imprisoned.
Recalling last Sunday’s Jubilee for prisoners, he told crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square that prisoners especially need to hear the message of God’s merciful love and forgiveness. Visiting the imprisoned, he said, is a fruitful way of bringing the Lord’s healing presence to those who are paying for their mistakes.
The pope also praised those who visit the sick in hospitals, saying their contribution is of inestimable value. The sick, he said, often feel very alone, and something as simple as a smile, the warm touch of a hand and a little company can prove to be excellent medicine.
Here below is the English summary of the Pope’s catechesis.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now consider two further corporal works of mercy: healing the sick and visiting the imprisoned. Jesus himself is our model in both. He shows us the importance of drawing near to those who so often feel alone and abandoned. How much good is done when we visit the sick and those in prison, and how much we ourselves are enriched by these acts of charity! Visiting the imprisoned is a fruitful way of bringing the Lord’s healing presence to those who are paying for their mistakes. Deprived of their freedom, they especially need to hear the message of God’s merciful love and forgiveness, and in this way to recognize their worth and dignity. Jesus himself, though innocent, suffered in prison for our sake, and the apostles Peter and Paul used the time of their imprisonment to pray and proclaim the Gospel. By visiting the sick and the imprisoned, may we bring God’s mercy and its redemptive power to our brothers and sisters in need.