Franciscans in India request 1,000 pardons for inmates for jubilee year

VATICAN CITY — In honor of the Holy Year of Mercy, Franciscans in India have asked their government to pardon 1,000 prisoners guilty of minor crimes.

People in Chennai, India, take a tour of the Central Prison in this Feb. 11, 2009, file photo. In honor of the Holy Year of Mercy, Franciscans in India have asked their government to pardon 1,000 prisoners guilty of minor crimes. (CNS photo| Stringer, EPA)

The men and women religious of the Association of the Franciscan Families of India voted during their national assembly in February to make the request, according to Matters India, a news portal that focuses on religious and social issues in India.

Capuchin Father Nithya Sagayam, who was chosen as one of the Vatican’s missionaries of mercy, was named national coordinator of the initiative.

According to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the members of the Franciscan association are “mainly engaged in helping the poor and marginalized through educational and medical institutions and social works.” At their assembly, members decided to converse with the government to focus on granting mercy to those who are currently in jail for minor crimes, such as theft.

Matters India reported that the Franciscans’ goal is not only to win pardon for those criminals, but to “also focus on their rehabilitation and reconstruction of their life with honor and dignity.”

“This will eventually also lead them to live a happy life with hope,” Father Sagayam said.