25 September 2017
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Thousands prisoners get out of jail for papal Mass at Vatican

Prisoners from around the world attended a special Mass by Pope Francis on Sunday, hearing him call for society to put more trust in rehabilitation, improved jail conditions and more clemency.

Francis, who has often criticized the effects of unbridled capitalism, also said those who worship the laws of financial markets are themselves prisoners of their own ideologies because markets often punish the weakest members of society.

The Vatican said about 1,000 prisoners took part in the Mass in St. Peters Basilica. Most were from Italian jails and many of these were foreigners. There were also delegations from about 10 other countries, the Vatican said.

They were accompanied by about 3,000 chaplains, guards, ex-prisoners and family members who came to Rome for a day dedicated to prisoners as part of the Catholic Church's Jubilee year of mercy, which ends later this month.

Two were Mafiosi serving under Italy's tough special prison regime of solitary confinement for organised crime members, a Vatican official said.

After the Mass, speaking to tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square for his traditional Sunday blessing, Francis appealed for prison conditions that respect the human dignity of inmates.

He also called for "the need for a criminal justice system that is not exclusively punitive, but open to the hope and possibility of re-inserting the offender into society."

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