Pope asks governments to grant clemency to prisoners at Christmas


VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis is writing to all heads of state around the world asking them to consider granting clemency to certain prisoners at Christmas.

The Vatican press office said Dec. 12 that the pope is asking government leaders to consider releasing or reducing the sentences of the men and women they believe would benefit from such a gesture of mercy “so that this period marked by tensions, injustices and conflicts can be opened to the grace that comes from the Lord.

The Vatican has not released a copy of the letter or explained what prompted it besides the approach of Christmas.

Since his days as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and after his election to the papacy, Pope Francis has made a special effort to maintain regular contact with prisoners, meeting with them in Rome and on his travels. around the world and to call and write them.

At the end of his Angelus address on December 11, the pope cried out “to the inmates of the Due Palazzi prison in Padua: I greet you affectionately!”

In 2016, a group of inmates from Padua prison were allowed to visit Rome during the Holy Year of Mercy; the pope granted them a private audience in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Then, in 2020, Pope Francis asked inmates who attend the prison’s Catholic chaplaincy to write down the meditations for his Good Friday Stations of the Cross ceremony, which was held in St. Peter’s Square due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, for most of the years of his pontificate, he visited a prison or juvenile detention center on Maundy Thursday to celebrate mass and wash the feet of inmates.

Visiting the Gulf nation of Bahrain in November, the pope said how a country treats prisoners “is a measure of a society’s dignity and hope.”

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