JAIL: THE GYM OF MERCY Interview with Father Vittorio Trani, chaplain of Regina Coeli roman prison

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Is there a place where there is mercy? According to Father Vittorio Trani, chaplain of Regina Coeli prison, yes. And it is the prison.Pope Francis, with the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee, wanted in every cathedral and prison in the world had opened a Holy Door. And also in the number 29 of Via Lungara, in Trastevere Rome’s quarter. With the help of  father Vittorio, all people of Regina Coeli, roman prison, have collaborated to set up a chapel so that even the prisoners, privileged faithful of this Holy Year, could live a few moments of faith in view of the November 6, the day that  will be celebrated particularly jubilee for prisoners.

“A truly felt event of the opening of these ports, but obviously you have to have the practical and objective way.” Father Vittorio explains that within the walls of the former convent trasteverino there is “a part that is practicing believer, that keeps inside the prison the witness of the Christian faith. However, the prison adds an element of reflection on faith even to those outside they haven’t.A very special situation, therefore, in which the subject is to come to terms with reality. In prison, in some way, they recover the religious dimension. We proposed a celebration of Holy Year in each prison’s sector: everyone had to register and then get ready. So catechesis, confessions, etc. This, of course, becomes a pastoral discourse, but it is also an expression of taken people conscience “.

Remembering John Paul II also had held a prayer service for prisoners living the Jubilee also with a visit to the prison, the chaplain of Regina Coeli said that Bergoglio “has made a substantial step forward: he will not celebrate it inside the prison, but as if it was a normal day for all other categories of faithful “. So The extraordinary is that the culminating event it was held in St. Peter’s, with the prisoners and their families, agents of the penitentiary police, chaplains and associations that offer assistance inside and outside prisons. more than 4,000 people are registered, of which more than a thousand will be held, from England, Italy, Latvia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, USA, South Africa, Sweden and Portugal.

But in the “Prison of the Popes” (Regina Coeli was visited by three popes: John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II), the jubilee celebrations were marked by a period of preparation that would help prisoners to read this Holy Year from a point of view to which we are unaccustomed: the Jubilee is the time when the Church turned to everyone. “This day is just the event itself which finds its rightful place.” This was possible thanks to the help “of a priest who works with young people, and he knows a suitable language, and a group of catechists, we walked together toward the salient moments of the Year, without doing anything extraordinary. I believe that the real work of the Jubilee is done in our hearts. God does not show, he just tries to get to the person. And this kind of people need to be taken by the hand to discover what they have inside. If anyone has to live the Holy Year – continues Father Vittorio – is precisely the ‘Zaccheo’ on duty’.

Paraphrasing the Gospel, we can say that if there is a place “where the protagonist is mercy, one of these is certainly the prison. In fact, it is the gym of mercy. It does not take long to realize that these people exist in the heart of God. ” In a sense, said the chaplain , “there is a mercy that comes to identify Christ with the prisoner. The purpose of the prison is to awake in these people their conscience, not everyone enter into this dynamic but who succeeds, and the Holy Year helps in this, they wrote a new page in their lives. In short, if you go to the bottom,the prison is one of the environment where mercy not only get, but it inhabits inside.The prison is just like its home. ”

After the great celebration of the prisons’ Jubilee, Father Vittorio does not expect big changes “from politicians or institutions. It’s very difficult that these events scratch these environments. Do an act towards the prisoners is to destroy his career. What I believe to be a general awareness it is that the Jubilee concerns a path in the heart of the people. I do not like to talk about amnesty or other actions in this case. I would see it more as a process of growth that touches the hearts of all. Then if something were to change it’s better but I do not think so. ”

His desire, in view of the closing of the Holy Year, is a visit of the Holy Father: “If there is a definition of the prison is: ‘horizon of hope’. We hope for a papal visit. He always said: ‘I will go’. I’m here for thirty-eight years, and my dream, as a believer, is to see the Pope who crosses the gates without any formalities. it would be wonderful. The sign that we have turned the corner: the prison is no longer an extraordinary place but it has become ordinary. This Pope, in his way of doing, has the prerequisites to happen this. I I hope so. “

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