Bilibid inmates seek audience with Pope Francis

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MANILA, Oct. 21, 2014–Leaders of different prisoners’ groups at the national penitentiary delivered a letter to the Vatican on behalf of thousands of other inmates.

The letter, delivered to the Apostolic Nuncio last Sept. 26, requests an audience with Pope Francis “to share with you, how God’s eternal grace transforms sinners like us.”

The move comes barely three months ahead of the scheduled visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines on Jan. 15 to 19, 2015.

“At this point, we know that it is impossible to happen, but we are still taking our chance of inviting you our beloved Father, to please visit us here in prisons,” said the inmates at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

“It will be a great blessing for us to have Christ’s disciple and our Father, here in our midst, to give us and many other prisoners, strength and an unwavering hope in God’s love and forgiveness,” they said.

A copy of the letter was shared to the media on Tuesday during a press conference for the observance of this year’s Prison Awareness Week.

Pope Francis is known for his characteristic display of compassion towards prison inmates by visiting jail facilities since he assumed the papacy.

Among his notable actions last year was when he gave Holy Thursday tradition his own twist as he washed the feet of a dozen young offenders at a detention facility in Rome.

In February this year, he also welcomed some prisoners to his residence at the Casa Marta, prayed with them and listened to their stories.

Last June, the pontiff has also responded to about 500 letters he received from US inmates sentenced to life in prison for crimes they committed and expressed his closeness with them and emphasized the need to reintegrate them into society.

Saying that it is not easy to be imprisoned, the NBP inmates said they are trying their “very best” to live a life of goodness as they continue to suffer from the “stigma and all the prejudice” thrown at them by people “who doesn’t understand that sinners like us can repent and go back to our Creator.”

“We hope and pray that as you continue God’s mission of loving all His children and inspiring them, you will give us few minutes of your most precious time during your visit here in January 2015,” they wrote.

Earlier, former street kids who are now under the care of Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation also wrote to Pope Francis asking him to drop by and visit them in January next year. (CBCPNews)

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