Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - The
Lord too "is a prisoner, no? Of our selfishness, our systems, of many
injustices that are easy to punish the weak, no? But the big fish go free"
These were Pope Francis words as he confirmed a phone call with some people "I know in Buenos Aires, who are in prison , on Sunday", as he received, the 200 participants at the National Conference of Chaplains Italian prisons this morning before the general audience. The course is taking place in Sacrofano, near Rome , on the theme " Justice: punishment or reconciliation. Free to liberate". The Pope urged the chaplains to tell the prisoners that God is close to them. "But tell them with gestures, with words, with the heart, that the Lord is not standing outside of their cell, outside the prison: He is with them inside, He is there." " No cell is so isolated it can exclude the Lord , no : He's there , crying with them, working with them, hoping with them."
"Please tell them that I pray for them : I have them at heart. I pray to the Lord and the Virgin Mary hat they can successfully overcome this difficult period of their lives. If they are discouraged, not to quit ." "His paternal and maternal love reaches everywhere," continued the Pope, who prayed "that they each open their hearts to the love of the Lord ."
And speaking of his phone calls with detainees he added: "Then , when I finish , I think, ' Why is he there and not me, and am I so much more deserving than him to stay there ? ' . And that is good for me? Why did he fall and not I? Because the weaknesses that we have, are the same and for me it is a mystery that makes me pray and makes me closer to them. It's good to say this too".
Pope Francis also prayed for the chaplains, for their ministry, "which is not easy," but it is "very challenging and very important" because it "expresses one of the works of mercy " , and "shows that the presence of the Lord in prison " :
"You are a sign of Christ's nearness to these brothers who are in need of hope. Recently, you spoke of a justice of reconciliation, no? Even a justice of hope, open doors, horizons ... This is not a utopia: it is possible. It's not easy, because of our weakness everywhere, even the devil is everywhere , temptations are everywhere ... but always look for the one , right? " .
"God's omnipotence is seen, manifested above all in His mercy and forgiveness." "It is not easy to understand God's mercy, it is not easy. It takes so much prayer to understand this, because it is a grace. "
“[W]e are called to be the living expression of the Church that, as a mother, welcomes anyone who approaches her,” said the pontiff. “Being a confessor in accordance with Christ’s heart is like covering a sinner’s heart with the blanket of mercy, so that he or she may not feel ashamed anymore and regain the joy of their filial dignity". Sadly, “One can do a lot of harm to a soul if it is not accepted as by a father, as by a mother Church."
On the final day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Francis said that “there can be no Christian unity without mercy and forgiveness.” Christians are making “important steps towards unity” listening “to the Word of God together and seek[ing] to put it into practice”. As they share the mission of proclaiming God’s merciful love as well as walk and work together, they realise that they are "already united in the name of the Lord.”
Before the Angelus, Francis commented the "Chapter of mercy", the 15th in Luke's Gospel, which presents us with parables with which Christ responds to the whispers of the scribes and the Pharisees: the lost sheep, the coin, and the prodigal son. There is no sin in which we have fallen, the pope said, " from which, by the grace of God, we cannot rise again; there is no individual beyond redemption because God never ceases to want our good, even when we sin!” After the Marian prayer, he dedicates a prayer for Gabon and speaks about the beatification of Ladislaus Bukowinski, in Kazakhstan.
At the General Audience Francis says that "merciful love is the only way forward", "we must be more merciful, we must not speak ill of others, or tease others with criticism, with envy with jealousies, forgive, be merciful, live our life in love and give".