Great Jubilee News

POPE CELEBRATES MASS IN ROMAN PRISON
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On Sunday, July 9, Pope John Paul II observed the Jubilee for prisons by celebrating Mass for a congregation of 70 inmates and 100 guards at the Regina Coeli prison in Rome. 

Cardinals Roger Etchegaray (the chairman of the Jubilee committee) and Camillo Ruini (the Pope's vicar for Rome) concelebrated the liturgy. Italian justice minister Piero Fassino was also in the congregation.  

Because of the limited space in the hall where the Mass was celebrated, only a relatively small number of prisoners were able to gather around the Pope for the liturgical celebration. (A dozen female prisoners from the nearby Rebbibia jail were among the congregation.) The other inmates followed the ceremony on television screens in their cells, as the ceremony was broadcast all over
Italy. 

"I come as a witness of God's love," the Pope told the prisoners in his homily. "I come to tell you that God loves you, and wants you to advance on the path to rehabilitation and pardon, toward
justice and truth." He told them that Jesus Christ "heals what is sick and repairs what is broken," and
urged them to recognize the importance not only of physical freedom but also of "freedom for the
heart."

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Pope renewed his appeal to civil leaders for a symbolic
reduction of the sentences of prisoners, as a gesture of clemency in celebration of the Jubilee. He
insisted that such a gesture could provoke a positive reaction among the prisoners themselves,
stimulating their efforts toward rehabilitation and their return to a productive role in society. 

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