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  • Pope Francis Meets With Inmates, Preaching The Power Of Change

    Pope Francis met with 95 inmates at a Philadelphia prison Sunday, speaking to them “as a pastor, but above all as a brother.”

    All people “have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from,” he said — momentarily breaking from the script to add: “I am first among them.”

    His remarks were framed by the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet before the Last Supper. It is impossible to go through life, he said, without “getting our feet dirty.” (RELATED: Pope Francis Talks Jesus, The Devil And Immigration At A Harlem School)

    Inmates in the prison’s carpentry program had built a throne for Francis, which he immediately praised and thanked them for. But he spent much of his talk standing several feet in front of the seat, as though trying to be as close as possible to the inmates.

    Francis acknowledged the corrections system can often be dehumanizing, and “not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities.” But echoing Jesus’ message, he said inmates’ time behind bars “can only have one purpose,” which is “to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you rejoin society.”

    Most of all, Jesus saves everyone including convicts “from the lie that says no one can change,” he said.

    The talk was shorter than most of his speeches in the U.S., allowing him time to individually greet inmates. Many of them were visibly moved as he spoke to them, with some approaching the verge of tears.

    In each American city Francis has visited over the past five days, he has made a stop to show solidarity with what he calls society’s “most vulnerable.” In Washington, he ate lunch with the homeless under the auspices of Catholic Charities, while in New York he visited a Catholic school in a majority-immigrant neighborhood. (RELATED: At Lunch With Homeless (Not Congress), Pope Francis Highlights Jesus’ Poverty)

    Sunday is Francis’ last day in the U.S.

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