After Riot, Pope Addresses Prison Life

'May God help to heal the wounds of crime that enslave the poorest,' Francis tells crowd
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 3, 2021 10:10 AM CDT
After Riot, Pope Addresses Prison Life
Faithful and pilgrims listen to Pope Francis on Sunday during the Angelus noon prayer at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis on Sunday called for "more humane" prison life in the wake of bloodshed in a prison in Ecuador in which 118 people died and dozens more were injured. Francis told the public in St. Peter’s Square that he was "very pained" by what happened last week in Guayaquil prison. He lamented what he called a "terrible explosion of violence among inmates belonging to rival gangs," the AP reports. "May God help to heal the wounds of crime that enslave the poorest,'' Francis said. He also prayed that God help "all those who work every day to render life in prisons more humane."

The pope prayed for the dead and the wounded and their families. Last week, Ecuador's president declared a state of emergency in the prison system following a battle among gang members that also injured 79 people in what authorities said was the worst prison bloodbath ever in the country. Officials said at least five of the dead were found to have been beheaded. Francis has spoken about prisons multiple times before, saying in 2019 that locking up convicts for life takes away their "right to hope," per the Catholic News Agency. "Life imprisonment is not the solution to problems," he said then, "but a problem to be solved."

(Read more prison riot stories.)

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