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Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday Mass: most youth at prison are foreign Muslims

Catholic World News - March 27, 2013

The Casal del Marmo juvenile prison, where Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, has a population that is mostly foreign-born and Muslim.

“Only eight of our residents are Italian: six boys and two girls,” said Father Gaetano Greco, the prison’s chaplain. “The others are all foreigners. And most of them are Muslim. Then there are some who have no religious belief at all. Therefore many of them don't even know who the Pope is. For this reason too, it was far from easy to explain to them the importance of the Pope's visit.”

Father Greco added:

A young Neapolitan who has been here for a while came to my help. He gathered them all together, to try to make them understand above all what the Pope's act, which is an act of love for them, actually meant. I was upset for a moment by the first looks, that were either blank or only faintly curious about my enthusiasm. Then our friend broke the silence with that most classic of Neapolitan expressions: “Maronna mia, o Papa accà!” [good heavens! The Pope here!] and he ran his hand through his hair, his face betraying emotions mingled with happiness. At that very instant all the others, seeing his amazement, realized that it must really be something very special and began to question me. Little by little, I saw their enthusiasm growing.

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