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Pope Francis kisses the foot of an inmate at Paliano prison outside of Rome as he celebrates Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper in April 2017 (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis has written a letter to all heads of state, asking for a “gesture of clemency” for prison inmates in the run-up to Christmas. Source: Vatican News.

In the letter, the Pope asks world leaders to make a symbolic gesture “towards our brothers and sisters who are deprived of their liberty and who are held eligible to benefit from such a provision”.

“So that this time marked by tensions, injustice and conflicts may be opened to the grace that comes from the Lord.”

This is the motivation reported in a statement issued yesterday by the Director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni.

The request for clemency for prisoners has distant roots that go back to the Great Jubilee Year 2000 when St Pope John Paul II asked the world’s rulers for a pardon for prisoners in the 11-page document for the Jubilee in Prisons. This request was reiterated again on November 14, 2002, to senators and deputies he met during his visit to the Italian Parliament.

Following in his predecessor’s footsteps, Pope Francis has shown his closeness to prison inmates in the course of many of his apostolic visits and in other instances, in particular during the Holy Thursday ceremony of the washing of the feet.

During the 2016 Holy Year of Mercy, on the occasion of the Jubilee of Prisoners on November 6, during the Angelus after Mass in St Peter’s Basilica with prisoners, he urged governments to grant them “an act of clemency”.


Pope asks world leaders for clemency for prisoners in the run-up to Christmas (By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News)


Pope Francis to ask heads of state to pardon prisoners as Christmas gesture (CNA)