2013-10-23 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday before the General Audience met with 200 Italian prison chaplains, whose ministry he called “very challenging and very important.” The chaplains are in Rome for their annual national convention, and come from all over the country.
Pope Francis began his remarks by asking the chaplains to bring his greetings to the prisoners whom they serve.
“Please say that I pray for them,” said the Holy Father. “I pray to the Lord and Our Lady that they can successfully overcome this difficult period of their lives. That they not be discouraged , that they do not quit.” He said the prisoners should be told that the Lord is with them in the prisons, and in their cells.
The Pope, speaking off the cuff, lamented the injustices of the current system, “because it is easier to punish the small fry, but let the big fish swim free in the water.”
Pope Francis also assured the chaplains of his prayer, saying their ministry “is not easy.”
“You are a sign of Christ's nearness to these brothers who are in need of hope,” he said. “Recently you talked about a ‘justice of reconciliation’ [at their conference], but also a justice of hope, of open doors, of horizons . This is not a utopia: It can be done.”
“It is not easy, because of our weaknesses which are everywhere, also the devil is everywhere, temptations are everywhere,” Pope Francis said. “But you must always try.”