Editor’s Note

“When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” (Mt 25:39)

Apr 30, 2022

By Patricia Pereira
They are among those on the margins, on the peripheries, the ones that society tends to brush aside or forget.

And yet our faith tells us that we must bring Christ to them. That we need to remind these individuals that we see the goodness and dignity in them — including those who have committed crimes.

We were once again offered a powerful witness of faith during Holy Week, when Pope Francis visited a group of incarcerated women and men at a prison in Civitavecchia, northwest of Rome.

The Pope celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the inmates and told them that God never tires of forgiving anyone who asks. “There is a Lord who judges, but it’s a strange judgment: The Lord judges and forgives.”

At the end of his homily, the Holy Father told the inmates he was going to wash their feet like Jesus did for His Apostles. “I do this from the heart because we priests should be the first to serve others, not exploit others. Clericalism sometimes leads us down this road. But we must serve.”

Washing feet, he added, “is also a sign of love for these brothers and sisters and for all of you here; a sign that means, ‘I do not judge anyone. I try to serve everyone.’”

Yes, indeed, who are we to judge? The recent news surrounding the hanging of Malaysian Nagaenthran Dharmalingam in Singapore saw hundreds of comments flooding social media. Many were sympathetic and sad that the execution took place despite the many appeals made. In fact, our Prime Minister and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had written to the President of Singapore appealing for clemency, but to no avail. At the same time, there were others who commented that the punishment was justified.

Crime and punishment aside, none of us can imagine the mental and emotional anguish of those in prison, more so those who have been given the death sentence, so there is no doubt that the Prison Ministry is an important outreach. It is imperative that the Church continues to minister to both women and men who are incarcerated, letting them know they are not forgotten and are being prayed for. We’re happy to note that our local prison authorities have given permission to the Archdiocesan Prison Ministry to resume their visits after a two-year interruption caused by the pandemic (Pastoral Care for Prisoners, Pg 7).

While some view prisons as places of darkness, our faith encourages us to bring the light of Christ to inmates.

May those who visit the incarcerated continue to offer compassion and bring a sense of new hope and joy to those they serve. And through their actions, may they always remind our brothers and sisters in prison that Christ is indeed alive and eager to embrace them with His forgiveness and love.

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