MANILA, Philippines - Sinners can be saints too.
New Bilibid Prison (NBP) chaplain Msgr. Bobby Olaguer said members of notorious gangs such as “Sputnik” and “Bahala na” can follow in the footsteps of second Filipino saint Pedro Calungsod.
“The opportunity for transformation is always there. That’s why we are doing everything to prepare our inmates for the future, not just their freedom from prison, but their future in facing God,” CBCP News quoted him as saying.
He said even the world’s worst sinners can still be transformed.
“Prisoners are human beings. We should not fear them. Let’s show compassion and our care for them instead,” he said.
Pope Benedict XVI named Calungsod and six others as new saints on Sunday during canonization rites at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
The first Filipino to become a saint was Lorenzo Ruiz, a missionary who was killed in 1637 and canonized in 1987. Calungsod, who was killed in Guam in 1672 trying to convert natives, was canonized 25 years after Ruiz.
Olaguer celebrated mass on Monday in celebration of the Prison Awareness Week at the chapel of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ office in Intramuros, Manila.
Several activities have been planned in connection with the Prison Awareness Week, including a “solidarity” event for inmates at the NBP on October 26 and at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City on October 27.
The Catholic Church also advocates restorative justice.