Pope Francis has celebrated a jubilee Mass for prisoners and called on governments to consider granting some prisoners early release.

At his Sunday Angelus address, the Pope called for “an act of clemency toward those imprisoned who are considered eligible to benefit from this measure”. He also said civil authorities should work to improve living conditions for those serving time “so that the human dignity of prisoners may be fully respected.”

The previous day, Francis celebrated a Mass attended by 1,000 current and former prisoners from 12 countries, as well as priests, men and women religious, and laypeople who work in prison ministry.

Detainees from several prisons in Italy and Spain were given special permission to attend the Mass for the Year of Mercy. Inmates from Italian prisons assisted as altar servers, while a choir composed of prisoners and volunteers from the Dozza prison in Bologna provided the music for the celebration.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on the Sunday readings, which he said acknowledged “God as the source” of hope.

“Hope is a gift of God. We must ask for it,” he told the current and former inmates.

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