Pope Francis will have lunch on Saturday with some 90 inmates at a prison near Naples, including some that reportedly come from a ward housing gay, transgender and HIV-infected inmates.
Tv2000, a television network operated by Italy's Catholic bishops, reports that lunch at the Giuseppe Salvia Detention Center was originally not on the schedule, but Pope Francis made a special request to dine with the inmates. A number of the estimated 100 prisoners are gay, transgender and/or infected with HIV, the report said.
The prisoners were chosen via raffle from the facility's 1900 inmates, writes David Gibson, a top Vatican watcher at Religion News Service. Pope Francis intends to greet each prisoner after a short and simple meal, Vatican Radio reports.
Pope Francis has made caring for inmates a priority of his papacy. He washed the feet of Muslim and women prisoners weeks after his election as pope, and is planning to wash inmates feet again this upcoming Holy Thursday. Pope Francis on Friday also reiterated the Catholic Church's position that no crime deserves the death penalty. Capital punishment, he said, is "inadmissible, however serious the crime."
The report of the lunch is also a reminder of the new tone and signature phrase of the Pope Francis papacy--"Who am I to judge?"--which was the Holy Father's response to a question about homosexuality months after his election.
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