20 May 10 – Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has called on prisoners to remember the ‘inner freedom’ that comes from ‘rejoicing in the Lord’. His words of advise and comfort are contained in a message that he wrote to prisoners in Malta during his April visit to the Mediterranean island, that was published Thursday.
In fact, the last of Pope Benedict XVI’s public event’s in Malta was a meeting with young people. A group of young offenders were invited to participate, and indeed, contribute to the questions that were posed to the Holy Father. The first speaker, representing those young people who feel in some way marginalised by the Church, spoke of “those young people who, like me, do not fit comfortably into stereo-typed roles”.
This he said “is due to various factors among them: either because we have experienced substance abuse; or because we are experiencing the misfortune of broken or dysfunctional families; or because we are of a different sexual orientation; among us are also our immigrant brothers and sisters, all of us in some way or another have encountered experiences that have estranged us from the Church”.
In his message to the men and women serving terms for offences in prison Pope Benedict responds with the words of St Paul, who first brought the faith to Malta:
I have received the message that you sent me and would like to convey to you my deep appreciation for the sentiments that you expressed and for the support of your prayers.
During this visit to the Maltese islands, I come as a Pastor to greet all the people in the name of the Lord. Be assured that I shall be especially mindful of those who suffer in any way – the sick, the elderly, the housebound, and those like yourselves who are in prison. I pray that you will draw comfort from the knowledge that you share in the condition of Saint Paul himself, who, although a prisoner, had the inner freedom to “rejoice in the Lord” (Phil 4:10), knowing that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8: 38-39).
With these sentiments, I assure you of my spiritual closeness. Invoking upon you and your loved ones the intercession of Saint Paul, Apostle of Malta, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord”.