Francis and the Boys in Los Angeles

by Kathryn Jean Lopez


Today Christians remember the Last Supper, and Christ’s subsequent betrayal by Judas. Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass at a juvenile detention center, giving gifts to and washing the feet of boys and girls there.

“Help one another,” he told them. “This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart.”

Learning that the new pope would be doing this, boys in a detention center in Los Angeles wrote some of the most moving letters to Pope Francis:

Dear Pope Francis, Thank you for washing the feet of youth like us in Italy. We also are young and made mistakes. Society has given up on us, thank you that you have not given up on us.


It is hard to be young and surrounded by darkness. Pray for me that one day I will be free and be able to help other youth like you do.

Dear Pope Francis, Tonight we pray for all victims of violence. The families of people we have hurt need healing. Our families need healing. We are all in pain. Let us feel Jesus’ healing tonight.

Dear Pope Francis,  I read that the harshest sentence that a youth can receive in Italy is 20 years. I wish this was true here. I hope I hear back from you. I have been catholic and glad I am catholic because I have a pope like you. I will pray for you every day because we need examples of God like you are in this violent world. 

You never do know whose souls you’ll touch with a little love.

So many of our problems — the ones we argue about every day — are so beyond politics right now. It seems clear the pope understands this and wants to help the world to understand the power of personal witness and presence. 

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