20 Dec 2011

I was in prison and you came to me" (Matthew 25:36).

 Pope Benedict to prisoners: I carry you all in my heart before the Lord

Good Pope John XXIII at Christmas 1958 revived the custom, which had lapsed in 1870, of visiting the Regina Coeli prison and one of the local hospitals for children suffering from polio, where he was greeted like a kindly grandfather ('Viene qui, viene qui, Papa') they shouted to him. The Pope waddled over to the children and embraced each of them. On he next day when he went to Regina Coeli prison, he told the prisoners, "You could not come to me, so I came to see you".

Continuing the tradition of visiting all members of the flock of the diocese of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI spent an hour visiting Rebibbia prison in Rome on Sunday 18th December 2011.

While visiting at the prison  Pope Benedict reminded the inmates that they are never alone in their suffering: “I have come to tell you simply that God loves you with infinite love, and you are always the same children of God. The only-begotten Son of God, The Lord Jesus, experienced prison, He was subjected to trial before a court and suffered the most cruel death sentence”.

Following his address, Pope Benedict spent time listening and responding to some prisoners questions. An Italian man Rocco asked if the Holy Father’s gesture would also be recognised by political leaders in its simplicity, so that dignity be restored to all, including detainees. The Pope replied that while his visit is of a personal nature aimed at showing the men and women of Rebibbia his genuine concern for them, it is also a public gesture to draw attention to the problems and difficulties of Italian prisons.

For full details of his address at the prison, go to Vatican Radio Report

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