Pope Francis Resumes Vatican Tours to Incarcerated Persons

Inmates from Rebibbia prison visiting the Vatican. Source: Catholic News

On June 21, Pope Francis resumed the pre-pandemic practice of welcoming incarcerated persons to the Vatican. Arriving early on the morning of June 21, twelve inmates from Rome’s Rebibbia prison offered His Holiness a basket of fresh baked bread. 

The prisoners were accompanied by the prison warden, Anna Maria Trapazzo, several corrections officers, and two judges. In an offhand remark caught on camera, Pope Francis turned to the prison chaplain, Servite Father Moreno M. Versolato, and said, “Prisons with women directors function better.”

Rebibbia inmates began baking bread during the lockdowns early during the pandemic as a constructive activity designed to help keep the inmates occupied during a time of visitations. Trapazzo informed the pope that the group was planning to open a store soon and invited the pope to visit them any time.

Offering some advice to the group, Pope Francis said, “It is important to seek out what is positive at a time when life is not at its most beautiful. Seek the positive in order to keep going forward.”

After leaving their audience with the pope, the group received a tour of the Vatican Museums led by Vatican Museums Director Barbara Jatta, who emphasized the collections contained were for all God’s children and encouraged the visitors if they had questions during the tour to please ask.

Following the tours, Father Versolato remarked on the importance of the two judges who accompanied the inmates to the Vatican. He told Vatican News the judges are the ones who sign the permits allowing prisoners to leave for visits such as these help cut recidivism rates and promote healthy reentry into society.

Further, the chaplain said all 12 prisoners and all other detainees he has met have deep affection and great esteem for the pope because of his many prison visits and his global advocacy for the dignified treatment of all people who are incarcerated.

Source: Catholic News