Francis to lunch with prisoners, including those who are transgender, gay, or have AIDS

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Pope Francis reportedly will have lunch Saturday with about 90 prisoners, including 10 from a prison ward for transgender and gay prisoners and those who suffer from AIDS, as part of a visit to the southern Italian city of Naples.*

The prisoners won their spots after a raffle among some 1,900 detainees, according to a report posted late Tuesday on the Italian news website Vatican Insider. That article refers to a separate report made on the matter by Tv2000, an Italian television network operated by the country's Catholic bishops' conference and known for broadcasting most papal events.

Francis is visiting Naples Saturday as part of a packed day in which the pontiff will first stop in the historic city of Pompeii. After praying at a sanctuary in Pompeii, the pope will hold six different events in Naples, including an outdoor Mass and meetings with diocesan clergy and religious, sick persons, and young people.

According to the Vatican Insider report, the pontiff's lunch with the prisoners will be cooked by the prisoners themselves and will include detainees from two nearby institutions.

Naples, located about 150 miles south of Rome, is the capital of the Italian region of Campania and the third largest city in the country.

The visit will be the pope's eighth inside Italy since his election in March 2013, following visits last year to the northern Italian city of Redipuglia and the southern Italian cities of Caserta, Molise, and Cassano all'Jonio.

*This story has been updated to clarify an earlier version of this story.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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