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In order to overcome exclusion in society

· Among prisoners, the sick and the poor Pope Francis visits the Diocese of Cassano all’Ionio ·

The penalty cannot be “an instrument of punishment and social retaliation”, it must be, instead, a way to “effective reintegration” into society. Pope Francis' visit to Cassano all’Ionio, Calabria, began on Saturday morning, 21 June, with an appeal to institutions, calling them to “concrete commitment” which must include rehabilitation and reintegration into society in their prison policy.

During his visit to the District Penitentiary of Castrovillari, where he arrived by helicopter around 9:00 am, the Pontiff recalled the theme of “respect for fundamental rights” of prisoners, expressly pointing out that the punishment must fit the crime. This element is “essential” but is still lacking, he warned, if it is not part of diligent work for social reintegration of those in prison.

If this is neglected, the Pope said, the penalty becomes an instrument of repression “damaging for the individual and society”. And God, he said, “does not do this to us”, because “he helps us to get back on the path. He never condemns. He never simply forgives, but he forgives and accompanies”. He is “Master of reintegration: He takes us by the hand and brings us back to society”.These words were immediately reflected when he met the prisoners one by one, including the father of the young boy Cocò Campolongo, who was burned to death by organized crime at the beginning of the year. Never again, the Pope said, should a child suffer like this.

Pope Francis then went to Cassano, where he met with the sick of the Hospice San Giuseppe Moscati, and then the cathedral to greet the priests of the diocese. In his address prepared for the occasion and consigned to those present, the Bishop of Rome called priests to rediscover the joy of their mission and of living the beauty of fraternity. He invited them in particular to work “with the family and for family”. The Pope then had lunch at the seminary with the poor of the diocesan Caritas and with the young people of the Saman Mauro Rostagno therapy and rehab centre. That afternoon he went by car to Marina di Sibari, where he celebrated Mass before returning to the Vatican.

The integral text of the Pope's addres at the District Penitentiary of Castrovillari in Italian 

The text of the address consigned to priests 

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