Kindred Spirits: Pope Francis and Dismas Charities Founder


In recent comments, Pope Francis echoed, almost verbatim, the founding tenets of Dismas Charities, established over 50 years ago by another Roman Catholic priest, Father William Diersen. Diersen believed that every person deserved a second chance, citing the conversation between Dismas, the Good Thief, and Christ on Calvary as the basis for the beginning of Dismas Charities and the premise under which it continues to operate. Pope Francis, speaking to an Argentine reporter recently, noted that “everyone makes mistakes, everyone sins.” He celebrated Holy Thursday Mass at a juvenile detention facility; visited a Naples prison in March, and in the summer of 2014, visited inmates at two other penal institutions. Even as Pope, he continues to call young inmates at a Buenos Aires prison and often spends time with children of inmates. His talks about prisons always focus on the need to ensure incarceration is designed not only as punishment, but as a process of education and socialization, preparing a person to return to society and function as a law abiding citizen. Showing mercy to those who have strayed can be life changing, he said. “Mercy overcomes every wall, every obstacle and can instill new life and hope in others.

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