An article on CNN revealed that a Young Teen in jail was saved by Pope Francis. Carlos Adrian Vázquez Jr., age 16, wrote to Pope Francis from juvenile jail. Here he's serving 11-year sentence. To the teen's surprise Pope Francis wrote back!
"Dear Carlos," wrote the Pope, "I was pleased to receive your recent letter...." Carlos has changed his ways since being a gang member in Los Angeles. However, Carlos Adrian Vazquez Jr. had lost the will to live when he began serving the 11-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. This is why he wrote to the Pope. "I asked for forgiveness for what I did," said Vazquez. The Pope wrote, "May the peace of Jesus Christ be with you! I was pleased to receive your recent letter. ..."
Vazquez now 18 said, "I couldn't believe it. I didn't think the Pope would write to someone who's behind bars." The Pontiff spoke of "a Holy Door to Mercy" to be opened at the juvenile jail, in a ceremony by the Los Angeles archbishop. He explained further, "I pray that as you and your fellow residents celebrate the opening of the Holy Door, you may receive these gifts and be filled with peace and hope." "Know that the Holy Father is thinking of you and praying for you. And please remember to pray for me, because I greatly need your prayers."
Pope Francis has been trying to reach inmates as part of the Jubilee of Mercy. Vazquez now no longer wants to end his life. Carlos said,"It gave me a lot of hope knowing that there are people like the Pope who still have not given up on us. I know I've made mistakes and have hurt people, but what I learned in my two years and five months I've been imprisoned, I didn't know I was hurting people and that I was hurting myself, too," Vazquez said.
Carlos is sorry for his crime; "Yes, because of the people I hurt, but I have to fall to learn how to get up," he said. Vazquez wrote to victim's family too.
"I ask them to forgive me and told them no words would ever give them back the life I destroyed, but I hope one day they can forgive me for my actions and now I just ask for forgiveness and I want to live the life that my victim didn't have a chance to live and be good," he said.
Carlos is now being transferred to the men's Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California. "If society does not forgive me, I know God forgives me for my sins," he said. He's learned many lessons. "The way I thought was to fight every month. Now I use my words instead of my hands," he said. Carlos dropped out of school at age 15 and then he joined a gang. "I wouldn't go home for days, a week, and I lost all connection with my family," he said. Carlos explains, "It was a gang fight and someone died. I wasn't the one who did it, but because I was there I was charged with the same crime." The parents of Carlos have visited their son every Sunday since his incarceration. Rev. Michael Kennedy, a Jesuit priest helps youths in prison at the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative. Kennedy's encouraged the youths to write letters to the Pope.
Carlos Adrian Vzquez Jr., 18, reads the letter he wrote to Pope Francis. "If only the world were filled with more love, compassion, forgiveness and mercy. Being an outcast of society, I want the world to see us for who we truly are; human beings, who make mistakes like everybody else. But we are able to rise again like a Phoenix," "I will become a leader some day, like Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. Thank you for your loving and your merciful example to all of us."
The Vatican also published other letters on its website that were written by incarcerated juveniles in 2013,
Carlso explained "It gives me a lot of pride because it's a message from God, that we are all humans, and he gives us hope that God wants all of us to be equal and we all commit mistakes, and we can get up and continue,"