- May 30, 2020
A May 19 statement by 14 Catholic leaders, including five bishops, decried the danger people in prison are exposed to during the coronavirus pandemic.
There are more than 30 Catholic organizations providing some kind of prison ministry in the United States. One reason is because the need is so great, with a prison population estimated at about 2.3 million by the Prison Policy Initiative.
When the Illinois Department of Corrections began releasing inmates from state prisons to reduce populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff from Kolbe House, the archdiocese’s jail and prison ministry, stepped up to help.
With the federal prison system shutting down all visits, a Catholic priest has volunteered to be incarcerated rather than leave inmates without spiritual care.
Shortly after assuring of his closeness amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak on an Italian television program, Pope Francis on Good Friday yet again appeared in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Square to lead a livestreamed Via Crucis with meditations written by prisoners.
While countries have enforced social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Pope Francis warned of serious consequences if the same measures aren’t applied to overcrowded prisons.