He characterized the Pope's letter as "a message from God, that we are all humans." He told CNN that the Pope "gives us hope that God wants all of us to be equal and we all commit mistakes, and we can get up and continue."
Vazquez had written the Pope: "Being an outcast of society, I want the world to see us for who we truly are: human beings, who make mistakes like everybody else. But we are able to rise again like a Phoenix."
He told the Pope he wants to become a leader like labor advocate Cesar Chavez, civil rights advocate Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., South African President Nelson Mandela and Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai.
Father Michael Kennedy, S.J., gave guidance to Vazquez and other youth people who wrote letters to the Pope.
He said that Vazquez got into many fights and was very focused on his gang when he first arrived in the juvenile facility. But after receiving his final sentence and after many weekly visits from his anguished parents, he began to change.
"It's easy to say you've changed, but the change is in the actions of someone," Fr. Kennedy said, according to CNN. "He started to read a lot of articles about the Pope, and he felt he was a person who had transformed his own self, and he knew that the Pope had a special place in his heart for the inmates, prisoners."
Vazquez is preparing for a transfer to Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California.
Update March 8 - Below is a statement from Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles:
I had the privilege to meet Carlos at the Juvenile Detention Center near L.A. and talk to him about his letter. It is sad to see so many young men and women in this prison and most of them having long sentences, including life sentences. I told Carlos that he is lucky to get a letter from the Pope.
His letter really shows our Holy Father's compassion and love for young people and people at the 'peripheries.' The Pope is setting an example for all of us in the Church - we have to rediscover the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, including visiting the prisoner.
In fact, Pope Francis makes it a point to visit prisoners wherever he travels. And he says that whenever he goes into a prison, he always asks himself: "Why them and not me?" Why are they behind bars and I am not? It's a good question - and one we should keep asking ourselves. Because we are all sinners who need God's healing mercy.
And we need to remember - that God's mercy can change even the heart that has been darkened by the worst sins. Even the hearts of those whom our society throws away and judges to be not worthy.
Carlos is a normal young man, just like any of us. He obviously made a mistake. He has asked forgiveness from God and from the people he has hurt and he is at peace. He said he owes his peace to Jesus and his parents, they go to visit him every week. We will keep praying for Carlos and everyone else in our detention centers here and around the country.