Pope Francis makes an appeal to civil authorities around the world to improve prison conditions, and engage in reflection so that the "criminal justice is not only punitive,” but is geared towards reintegrating offenders into society. Without a reference to “heaven and eternal life, Christianity would be reduced to ethics, a philosophy of life.” The 38 martyrs killed by Albania’s atheistic communist regime were beatified yesterday. As the Paris climate agreement comes into effect we should “place the economy at the service of people and build peace and justice.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis made an appeal to civil authorities on the occasion of the Jubilee of Mercy, calling on them to undertake "an act of clemency towards those prisoners who can be considered eligible to benefit from this measure.” He also urged them to improve “living conditions in prisons" and engage in reflection so that the "criminal justice is not only punitive, but is open to hope to the prospect of reintegrating the offender into society.”
The appeal – issued at the end of today’s Angelus prayer– was awaited by many prisoners, especially those, about a thousand, who were in Rome yesterday and today on a pilgrimage and who took part in this morning’s Mass in St Peter’s Basilica for the Jubilee of the prisoners.
Earlier the Pontiff had paused to reflect on today’s Sunday Gospel (32nd year, C, Lk 20.27-38), which presents Jesus' dispute with the Sadducees on how to understand the resurrection. Jesus explained "that existence after death will be different from that on Earth. He made it clear to his interlocutors that it is not possible to apply the categories of this world to the realities that are beyond it and are greater than what we see in this life. "
"In this world,” the pope said, “we live on provisional realities that end. By contrast, in the hereafter, after the resurrection, death will not be our horizon and we will experience everything, even human bonds, in God’s dimension, in a transfigured way. Even marriage, the sign and instrument of God’s love in this world, will shine transformed in the full light in the glorious communion of saints in Paradise."
"The resurrection,” the pontiff went on to say, “is not only about resurrecting after death, but it is a new kind of life that we already experience today – It is the victory over nothingness that we can already anticipate. The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith! If there was no reference to heaven and eternal life, Christianity would be reduced to ethics, a philosophy of life. Instead the message of the Christian faith comes from heaven, it is revealed by God and is beyond this world. To believe in the resurrection is essential, so that our every act of Christian love may not be ephemeral and an end in itself, but becomes [instead] a seed destined to bloom in God’s garden, and bear the fruits of eternal life."
After the Marian prayer, Francis mentioned the 38 martyrs beatified yesterday in Shkodër (Scutari, Albania). They include two bishops, several priests and religious, one seminarian and some lay people, "victims of severe persecution by the atheist regime that dominated that country for a long time last century. They preferred to suffer imprisonment, torture and eventually death in order to remain faithful to Christ and the Church. Their example helps us find strength in the Lord that supports us in times of trouble and inspires acts of kindness, forgiveness and peace."
Finally, Pope Francis noted that two days ago, the Paris Agreement on climate came into effect. "This important step forward,” he said, “shows that humanity has the ability to work together to protect creation (cf. Laudato si’, 13), to place the economy at the service of people and build peace and justice. Tomorrow, a new session of the climate conference will open in Marrakech, Morocco, aimed, among other things, at implementing this Agreement. I hope that this whole process is guided by the awareness of our responsibility for the care of the common home."