In the Apostolic Letter, Misorericordia et misera, Francis writes, "Prisons are often places where confinement is accompanied by serious hardships due to inhumane living conditions." He states, "The culture of extreme individualism, especially in the West, has led to a loss of a sense of solidarity with and responsibility for others. Today many people have no experience of God himself, and this represents the greatest poverty and the major obstacle to recognizing the inviolable dignity of human life" (#18).

No one needs more reminder of the loss of solidarity with others and the devaluation of their human dignity than the thousands of incarcerated men and women in our jails and prisons. As a volunteer chaplain for 16 years at a high-security prison in Ohio, I was told many times that while we ministered to only a small percent of the inmates, that all inmates benefited by seeing us walk across the compound because our presence said that people on the outside had not forgotten them.

How has God used you as his minister of mercy to those imprisoned?