While in Naples, Italy, today, Pope Francis will visit a prison and share lunch with some 90 inmates, including 10 who are gay, transgender, or infected with the AIDS virus.
The Pope has scheduled a stopover at?the Giuseppe Salvia Detention Center in Poggioreale, near Naples. He was not originally scheduled to dine with inmates, but Francis insisted on the meal, which will be prepared by the prisoners.
Since he ascended to the Papacy two years ago, Francis has made reaching out to previously disenfranchised groups a key mission for the Catholic Church. In 2013, the Pope declared:
“Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”
Pope Francis has also taken a new, truly revolutionary tone in regard to homosexuals, even going so far as to say,??Who am I to judge?” when he was asked if a gay man could ever hope to be a priest.?The Pontiff also told reporters:
“If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem?they’re our brothers.”
The lunch with inmates at the prison will be very simple and “frugal,” according to a spokesperson. The spokesperson also noted that the pope plans to take time to meet with each prisoner on an individual basis.
The prison visit is part of a busy day which is scheduled for Francis. The Pontiff ?will begin his day by praying at a sanctuary in Pompeii, which is known for its Marian shrine, as well as a volcano. He will also hold a series of events, including an outdoor Mass and meetings with a group of young people before he returns to the Vatican later in the evening.