Igarapé, Brazil, February 7, 2020 – In the beginning of February, the pastors and Vicar of the Parishes of Igarapé and São Joaquim de Bicas received a letter from Dom José Carlos Campos, Bishop of Divinópolis, in support of the prison ministry in the Bicas Prison Complex. Brother Henrique Matos CMM is involved in this prison chaplaincy through the APC foundation (Apoio à Pastoral Carcerária – Prison Chaplaincy Support).
We hereby share some extracts from this letter with you, and we hope it may also inspire our readers to view their incarcerated sisters or brothers as human beings with whom Jesus himself identified. When the bishop speaks of prisoners in Bicas prison, his words of course apply to all those imprisoned, worldwide:
I, the Lord Jesus, was arrested and you came to visit me!
“Brothers and sisters of Igarapé and São Joaquim de Bicas,
Those who are deprived of their freedom and serving time in the Bicas prison also need religious and spiritual assistance.
They are human beings, regardless of what they have done wrong and they need to be helped in the process of changing their behavior and life.
We need ministers who will provide for the pastoral care of those who have been imprisoned. We are not the ones who decide where Christ will be found, but rather it is he who chose to be in prison and he now invites us to visit him. Pastoral care of prisoners is neither public policy nor a judicial decision: it is a mission, it is a commitment of faith, it is fidelity to the teacher, Jesus.
This letter is an invitation to strengthen the prison chaplaincy. If you feel called to meet Jesus in this place and in this mission, go and participate in a formation session for prison ministry or become on of those volunteers who provide some important and necessary reinforcement to prison ministry.
Let us not focus on the sins and crimes that someone has committed (we all also commit them to some extent!), but let us look at the imprisoned sisters or brothers as human beings with whom Jesus identified himself: “I was imprisoned and you came to visit me”.
Dom José Carlos Campos, Bishop of Divinópolis, MG, Brazil