Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sacrament of love

Various people are reacting to the release today of Sacramentum Caritatis but I have noted a little love note to those of us who hang out around prisons and jails.

Care for prisoners

59. The Church's spiritual tradition, basing itself on Christ's own words (cf. Mt 25:36), has designated the visiting of prisoners as one of the corporal works of mercy. Prisoners have a particular need to be visited personally by the Lord in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Experiencing the closeness of the ecclesial community, sharing in the Eucharist and receiving holy communion at this difficult and painful time can surely contribute to the quality of a prisoner's faith journey and to full social rehabilitation. Taking up the recommendation of the Synod, I ask Dioceses to do whatever is possible to ensure that sufficient pastoral resources are invested in the spiritual care of prisoners.
There are some basics to detention ministry -- the foundation being simple presence. But once you have managed to establish regular access, the priority is always to insure that prisoners can have as normal a sacramental life as practical under the circumstances. Security concerns can mandate all sorts of limitations and modifications, but just about any Cathlolic prisoner should have access to the Sacrament. You don't have to persuade prisoners of the importance of the Eucharist in their lives, they will tell you how important it is.

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