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Monday, April 2, 2012


Vatican City, 31 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a message to prisoners detained in Rome's Rebibbia prison for the Way of the Cross they celebrated there yesterday evening. The celebration, presided by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, was attended by 300 prisoners, the chaplain, Caritas volunteers, seminarians who offer daily service inside the prison and numerous faithful from various parishes. The Pope made a pastoral visit to the jail on 18 December last year.

"I feel a particularly close bond to this initiative", the Pope writes, "because I conserve in my heart the memory of the visit I made to Rebibbia prison shortly before last Christmas. I remember the faces I saw and the words I heard, all of which left a profound mark on me".

"I know that this Way of the Cross also seeks to be a sign of reconciliation. In fact, as one of the prisoners said during our meeting, the purpose of prison is to help us rise again after having fallen, it serves to achieve reconciliation with ourselves, with others and with God, and so re-enter society. When in the Way of the Cross we see Jesus fall to the ground - once, twice, three times - we understand that He shared our human condition. The weight of our sins caused Him to fall; but three times Jesus got up again and continued the journey to Calvary. Thus, with His help, we too can rise from our falls, and perhaps also help a brother to rise as well.

"But what gave Jesus the strength to carry on?", the Pope asked. "He knew that the Father loved Him, and this immense love, this infinite mercy of the heavenly Father, consoled Him and was greater than the violence and abuse surrounding Him".

"The great gift that Jesus gave us with His Way of the Cross was this: He showed us that God is infinite love, He is mercy and He carries the burden of our sins unto the end, enabling us to rise again, to find reconciliation and rediscover peace. We too, then, should not be afraid to follow our own 'way of the cross' to carry our cross together with Jesus. He is with us".

"With this hope, grounded in faith, I trust that you will all live this coming Easter in the peace and joy which Christ bought for us with His blood, and with great affection I impart upon you my apostolic blessing".

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