Pope Francis wants that the doors of all prison chapels around the world become Holy Doors for the Extraordinary Jubilee of the Year of Mercy. That’s great, I say. I would love that if I were in prison and I had privileges to be able to go to the chapel. But I would also think: What about those who don’t have privileges and can’t go to the chapel?
I was talking a while back with “The Doctor” from the above imaged institution where information gathering was once a priority. A really nice guy if you ask me, a devout Catholic. It is most probable that not even one prisoner in the history of the prison would want anything to do with mercy from a Judeo-Catholic perspective. But my talk with the “Doc” got me thinking. Could not something be done for those who attend to the prisoners? Life is most extraordinarily difficult for them, facing the purveyors of mercilessness day in, day out. “Doc” had a very protective handler. I would like to say that I just can’t imagine such an ongoing ordeal, but I can. I would like to provide for these guys a presentation of how it is that the mercy of God works out even in such circumstances. Understanding is crucial. So many of our best are Catholic. The CIA really stands for the Catholic Intelligence Agency. ;¬) Seriously, burnout comes about because of lack of understanding. I’m going to contact a friend who knows some of the higher-ups and see if a conference might be scheduled.
There are, mind you, Americans in American prisons who are even more inaccessible than those in GTMO, namely, those in the “hole”, solitary confinement, sometimes for years at a time even though just 30 days is enough to bring most of the toughest men to attempt suicide. The prison rule is to be clean-shaven. So the men are given a razor, which they will likely end up using to cut major arteries so that they bleed out, and this at the rate of even more than one every couple of days in a pod of cells. Such insanity. But there are those who are sane and who would benefit from a visit, but, of course, they have no privileges. Exceptions can be made, no?
At any rate, if any prison chaplain would like to have a Missionary of Mercy available to come to the prison at the very least for the privileged population who would like a presentation on how mercy works out in such circumstances, let me know.
Contact me at an old but still active email address, which is holy souls hermitage [one word] at gmail dot com.
— Father George David Byers