Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, confirmed that the Holy Father plans to visit the Casal del Marmo jail next month.
Fr. Lombardi noted that while this will be the first prison visit conducted by Pope Benedict, the Pontiff is following in the steps of is predecessors, beginning with Pope John XXIII. Both John XXIII and Pope Paul VI visited the Regina Coeli Prison in Rome.
Pope John Paul II visited not only the Regina Coeli and Rebibbia Prisons - where he personally forgave Mehemed Ali Agca, who was in jail after attempting to assassinate the him - but also visited Juvenile Prison of Casal del Marmo in 1980.
Just this past Tuesday Vatican Radio remembered that occasion, when Pope John Paul announced that, “I hope that my presence in this place is therefore also an encouragement for all those wise reforms of the judicial and administrative ordinances, which tend not towards the weighing down of those who have fallen short, but towards assisting them to find themselves, to be reinserted with serenity and awareness in the general order of civil coexistence.”
In addition to receiving the visits of two Popes, Casal del Marmo had for several years, been the site of the tireless and humble pastoral work of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Vatican Secretary of State during the 1980s.
The Holy See has confirmed that on Sunday, March 18th, Pope Benedict XVI is planning a pastoral visit to Rome’s juvenile detention center.