PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Sunday morning, Pope Francis visited Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia and spoke with 100 of the prisoners.

The pope stood in front of a special wooden chair made by the inmates.

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He began, “Dear brothers and sisters thank you for receiving me and giving me the opportunity to be here with you and to share this time in your lives. It is a difficult time one full of struggles. I know it’s a painful time not only for you but also for your families and all of society. Any society, any family which can not share or take seriously the pain of its children and views that pain as something normal or to be expected is a society condemned to remain a hostage to itself. Pray to the very things that cause that pain. I am here as a pastel but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own. I have come so that we can pray together and offer everything to our god that causes us pain but also everything that gives us hope so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection.”

“I think of the gospel scene where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper this was something his disciples found hard to accept. Even peter refused and told him you will never wash my feet. In those days it was accustomed to wash someone’s feet when they came to your home. That was how they welcomed people. The roads were not paved, they were covered with dust and little stones would get stuck on your sandals. Everyone would walk to those roads, which left their feet dusty bruised or cut from those stones. That is why we see Jesus washing feet, our feet, the feet of his disciples then and now.”

“Life is a journey along different roads, different paths which leave their mark on us”


PHOTOS: Pope Francis Visits Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility


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“We know in faith that Jesus seeks us out. He wants to heal our wounds to soothe our feet which hurt from traveling alone. To wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey. He doesn’t ask us where we have been. He doesn’t question us what about we’ve done about what we’ve done. Rather he tells us unless I wash your feet you have no share with me. Unless I wash your feet, I will not be able to give you the life which the father always dreamed of. The life for which he created you. Jesus comes to us so that he can restore our dignity as children of god. He wants to help us set out again to resume our journey to recover our hope to restore our faith and trust. He wants us to keep walking on the path of life. To realize that we have a mission and that confinement isn’t the same thing as exclusion.”

“Life means getting our feet dirty. From the dust-filled roads of life and history. All of us need to be cleansed to be washed all of us and me in first place. All of us are being sought out by the teacher who wants to help us resume our journey. The Lord goes in search of us, to all of us he stretches out a helping hand.”

“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 pains and wounds are also the weariness, pains and wounds of society. The Lord tells us this clearly with a sign. He washes our feet so that we come back to the table. The table from which he wishes no one to be excluded, the table which is spread for all and to which all of us are invited.”

“This time in your life can only have one purpose. To give you a hand to getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you re-join society, all of us are a part of that effort. All of us are invited to encourage, help and enable your rehabilitation. A rehabilitation which everyone seeks and desires. In mates and their families, correctional authorities, social and educational programs, a rehabilitation which benefits the moral of the entire community and society.”

“I encourage you to have this attitude with one another and with all those who any way are part of this institution may you make possible new opportunities, new journeys, new paths.”

“All of us have something that we need to be cleansed of or purified from. All of us. May the knowledge of that fact inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others.”

“Let us look to Jesus who washes our feet. He is the way, the truth and the life. He comes to save us from the lie that says no one can change. From the lie that says no one can change. And as we are seated in silence… we ask the Lord to bless us. May god bless you and protect you. And make his face shine upon you and may he grant you peace. Thank you.”

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