Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke these words during a pastoral visit to Rebibbia prison in Rome in December 2011. We include them here on this Prisoners Sunday when the Church remembers all prisoners and their welfare.
'Justice and mercy, justice and charity on which the Church's charity is hinged, are two different realities only for the human person. For we distinguish carefully between a just act and an act of love. For us "just" means "what is due to the other", while "merciful" is what is given out of kindness. One seems to exclude the other. Yet for God it is not like this: justice and charity coincide in him; there is no just action that is not also an act of mercy and pardon, and at the same time, there is no merciful action that is not perfectly just.
How far God's logic is from our own! And how different is his way of acting from ours! The Lord invites us to understand and observe the true spirit of the law to give it total fulfilment in love for those in need. "Love... is the fulfilling of the law", St Paul wrote (Rom 13:10). Our justice will be all the more perfect the more motivated it is by love for God and for our brethren'.
Pope Benedict XVI