On Saturday, the Pope visited the Giuseppe Salvia Penitentiary in Poggioreale. Upon arrival he was welcomed by the director of the centre and the chaplain, and he greeted the detainees from the forecourt of the institution. After lunch the Holy Father handed them a brief written discourse, several paragraphs of which are reproduced below:
“At times we feel disillusioned, discouraged, abandoned by everyone, but God does not forget his children – He never abandons them. He is always at our side, especially in times of difficulty; the Father is 'rich in mercy'. ... This is a certainty that gives comfort and hope, especially in difficult and sad times. Although we have erred in life, the Lord never tires of showing us the way back to the path and encounter with Him. … It is a fundamental certainty for us: nothing can separate us from the love of God! Not even the bars of a prison”.
“Dear brothers, I know your painful situations: I receive many letters – some truly moving – from prisons around the world. Inmates often live in conditions unworthy of human beings, and subsequently are unable to reintegrate into society. But, thanks be to God, there are also leaders, chaplains, educators, pastoral workers who know how to stay close to you in the right way. There are some good and meaningful experiences of reintegration. We must work on this, to develop these positive experiences, so they help nurture a different attitude in the civil community and also in the community of the Church. At the basis of this commitment is the conviction that love can always transform the human person. And so, a place of marginalisation, as a prison may be, in a negative sense, can then become a place of inclusion and stimulus for society as a whole, so that it becomes just and more attentive to people”.
“I invite you to live every day, every moment in the presence of God, to Whom the future of the world and of man belong. This is Christian hope: the future is in God's hands. History makes sense because it is inhabited by God's goodness”.