“I thank you for thinking of me in the midst of the difficulties you currently face in your life situations”. This is the unexpected opening of Pope Francis’s letter to the inmates of the Velletri prison. On 5 March, the bishop of Albano, Msgr. Marcello Semeraro, had visited the prison and on that occasion the prisoners entrusted to the religious man a letter addressed to the Pope. Bergoglio has answered writing that he often thinks of the detained and, “for this reason, in my pastoral visits I always ask, when it is possible, to meet” those who live “in condition of restricted freedom, to bring them affection and closeness”. This is one of the reasons why he wanted a jubilee of prisoners during the Holy Year of Mercy.
“Dear friends – Francis goes on – you live an experience in which time seems to stand still, to be never-ending. But the true measure of time is not the clock”. “The true measure of time – he said – is called hope! And I wish that each of you can always keep the light of hope of faith lit up in your life!”
Hence the exhortation to pray the Lord, an infinite source of mercy. “Always be sure – is the Pope’s encouragement – that God loves you personally, your age or culture do not matter to Him, it does not matter even what you used to be, the things you have done, the goals you have achieved, the mistakes you have made, nor the people we have hurt. ” Hence, he reiterates, “do not allow yourselves to be locked up in the past, turn it into a path of growth, faith, and charity. Give God a chance to make you shine through this experience.”
In the history of the Church, the Pope recalls, “many Saints reached holiness through hard and difficult experiences.” Therefore, the letter concludes, “open the door of your heart to Christ, and Christ will reverse your situation. It is all possible with Christ!”