Pope Francis visits one time dangerous correctional facility once known as a ‘center of gang power’

Pope Francis, during his visit to Cereso correctional facility on Wednesday 17th Feb, (the facility once a center of gang power and home to 3,000 prisoners), strongly condemned societies that normalize the sufferings of inmates.

The Argentine Pontiff, speaking in a penitentiary system once plagued by overcrowding, massive violence and corruption where inmates acted violently, enforced discipline on themselves and drug lords instilled gang related morals among the inmates, he urged the society to focus on prevention, reintegration and a system of “social health,” instead of on only on incarceration and insisting that inmates pay for their crimes.

“Celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy with you is recalling the pressing journey that we must undertake in order to break the cycle of violence and crime. We have already lost many decades thinking and believing that everything will be resolved by isolating, separating, incarcerating, and ridding ourselves of problems, believing that these policies really solve problems,” the Pope said. “We have forgotten to focus on what must truly be our concern: people’s lives; their lives, those of their families, and those who have suffered because of this cycle of violence,” he added.

Cases of murders, cases of self-harm, serious assaults and violence are on serious rise in different male prisons.  Prison managers in Ciudad Juarez say their facility — once a center and symbol of gang power and also considered the most violent in Latin America — has vastly improved since 2010, when 216 inmates were killed in the state. “You couldn’t enter a single prison without asking permission from the inmates, they were the ones who controlled things,” said one prison official.

The Pontiff had once said during his visit to the Philadelphia jail: “It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities. It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society.” He expressed solidarity with the inmates saying, “All of us have something we need to be cleansed of or purified from. All of us!”

“Jesus urges us to have mercy that embraces everyone and is found in every corner of the world. There is no place beyond the reach of his mercy, no space or person it cannot touch,” he continued.

He called concern for prisoners “a moral imperative for the whole society,” in working to toward an improved “common life.”

At the end of his visit to the facility, Pope Francis prayed with the inmates telling them that only they knew what they would ask forgiveness for.

“I tell you from my own wounds, errors and sin, that the Lord wants to forgive,” he concluded.




  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    The retribution and incarceration that Bible God demands for so-called “mortal sins” far exceeds that which these prisoners endure, according to what I was taught. I don’t see any mercy or rehabilitation, for the damned. I see Bible God “isolating, separating, incarcerating, and ridding” Himself of those members of His creation that didn’t meet His criteria (even though He supposedly knew which ones that would be before they were born).
    Prison systems such as the Pope is decrying are the result of the retribution-based ideology of Christianity. Like pretending to care for poor people the Church itself creates by insisting that those least able to afford large families be saddled with them or face eternity in retributive, punishing, tormenting hellfire for using contraception – you don’t get the credit when you’re the one throwing the kerosene on the fire. Don’t pretend to be in favor of prisoner’s rights, when the prison system was modeled on Christian retributive punishment.

  2. Tsambika Reply

    The God (Yahweh) of the Bible is NOT responsible for the sufferings of people. The instigator (devil lucifer) and his followers (free masons) are responsible for all the problems of the world ever since time began. TLIG.ORG

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Then you are suggesting that Bible God is not all-powerful? He has no power to rein in the mythical Lucifer? If He has the power to control Lucifer and chooses not to, how can He be all-good? The thing is – I’ve never seen any more objective evidence for Lucifer than I have for Bible God.
      And besides, if Lucifer is so bad, why does the “inspired” holy book tell us Bible God kills millions, while at most, Lucifer kills Job’s family – and it’s not clear who does that killing. Lucifer told the imaginary Eve that she would not die on the day she ate of the fruit of the tree of temptation and indeed she did not. Poor Lucifer gets blamed for everything, but I don’t see a lot of evidence that he’s really responsible.
      Maybe bad things just happen, and there is no God or Lucifer… a logical conclusion given the total lack of evidence for either.

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