Pope Francis has told inmates at a Chilean women’s prison that they should not lose hope or their dignity just because they have lost their freedom.
Francis told the women during the visit on Tuesday that everyone’s a sinner, and that change is always possible.
He said: “No one can take away your dignity.”
He called for prison sentences to not just serve as punishment, but to be a chance for inmates to learn new trades so they can re-enter society when they have completed their sentences.
Francis frequently visits detention centres on his foreign trips, part of his ministry to society’s most peripheral.
Tuesday’s was his first-ever visit to a women’s facility, and it was particularly moving.
Many of the women wept, and the pope seemed choked up when the inmates sang a song they had composed for him.
One of the inmates chosen to speak for all, Janeth Zurita Interna, said she wanted to publicly apologise for her crimes and ask for mercy for the children who are growing up in prison with their mothers.
She said: “We know that God forgives us, but we ask that society does so as well.”