MANILA, April 10, 2013—Pope Francis did not only break tradition when he washed the feet of young inmates last Holy Thursday, he also uplifted the dignity of law offenders and inspired prison volunteers to continue their ministry.
Such was the feeling of Rudy Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, when he saw the footage of Pope Francis’ extraordinary way of reenacting Jesus’ washing of the feet of his apostles at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
“It’s a big deal for us, both inmates and volunteers,” Diamante said, adding that the Pope’s action reminds the Catholic faithful of the Church’s preferential option for the poor, which includes prisoners.
“It’s very inspiring and reminds us that ‘there is so much hope’ in the prison pastoral ministry,” he added.
Diamante said the Holy Father literally “uplifted the dignity” of the prisoners when he chose them over other lay faithful for the reenactment of Christ’s washing of the feet of the 12 apostles.
“What we saw was a great deal of humility on his part. A man of such rank kissed the feet of the lowly prisoners, showing that he is willing to go down to their level because they are equals,” he said.
Walk the talk
Diamante urged Church leaders to follow Pope Francis’ example of “walking the talk.”
“Priests should try to reach out to the people who cannot reach them, including prisoners who could not leave detention to go to Mass or attend worship gatherings. Prisoners are among those that the Church should try to reach out to,” he said.
Diamante likewise urged bishops to include the prison pastoral care in the diocesan pastoral plan and diocesan budget.
“The prison pastoral care should be part of the diocesan pastoral plan and included in the diocesan budget,” he added. (KB/CBCPNews)