Pope in Verona prison: Share pain with God and others

Pope Francis visited Verona’s Montorio prison and urged inmates to „talk to God about our pain and help each other to bear it.”

By Joseph Tulloch

The longest meeting on Pope Francis’ busy schedule was a day-long trip to Verona, where he stopped at the city’s Montorio prison.

Scores of inmates and staff gathered in the institution’s playground to welcome the pope, while others watched from their cell windows.

After hearing speeches from prison director Francesca Gioveni and young inmate Duarte, the Pope gave a short address.

Prisons are the abodes of mankind

„For me, entering prison is always an important moment, because prison is the best place for humanity,” the Pope said.

In prison, he continued, humanity is „tempted, sometimes burdened with difficulties, guilt, judgments, misunderstandings, and suffering.”

At the same time, however, he said, referring to inmate Duarte’s earlier speech, that the prison was „full of strength, a will to forgive and a will to redeem himself.”

Pope Francis speaks to prison staff and prisoners

Recent suicides

The Pope said he was saddened to learn that some inmates at the prison had recently ended their lives.

„It is a sad and terrible act,” he said, „which can only lead to unsustainable despair and pain.”

Existence, the Pope said, is a „personal gift” to ourselves and to others, and „above all to God, who never abandons us, who really knows how to listen, rejoice and cry with us.”

„Let’s talk to God about our pain and help each other carry it as fellow travelers,” the Pope emphasized.

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God, 'Father of All’

In his welcome address, the director of the prison noted that inmates come from 40 different countries and from various religious backgrounds.

„God is one,” the Pope told the prisoners. „Our cultures have taught us to call him by different names and find him in different ways, but he is the same Father to us all.”

„He is the same,” the Pope continued, „and all religions, all cultures, see the same God in different ways. He never abandons us. If he is by our side, we can overcome despair and live each moment as the perfect time to start again.

Pope Francis with prison director Francesca Gioni

Pope Francis with prison director Francesca Gioni

Visit of the Pope to Montorio Prison in Verona

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