In a letter to the people of the Veneto region of Italy – an area particularly hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic – Pope Francis has shared “a beautiful page of charity”: this year, he has asked prisoners from the “Due Palazzi” penitentiary in Padua to compose the meditations for the Way of the Cross celebrated by the Pope each year on Good Friday.

The Pope said he wanted the meditations to be “a choral work”, with contributions from all “the various faces” of the world of prisons: victims, prisoners, guards, volunteers, families, judges, teachers, the Church, innocent people who at times are unjustly accused”. Prison, the Pope said, “is a kaleidoscope of situations”, where there is a risk of focusing on a single detail, to the detriment of the whole. “The resurrection of a person is never the work of an individual, but of the community working together”.

Pope Francis said he was “moved” when he read the meditations: “I felt very much involved in this story, I felt like a brother who made mistakes, and like those who agree to stand beside them to resume the ascent”.

Balancing mercy and justice, he continued, is not easy; but when that balance is achieved, all of society gains by it. Pope Francis then thanked the “parish of the prison”, and all who work in the area of corrections, saying, “God bless the good heart of those who challenge indifference with tenderness”.