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Vatican. Good Friday. Pope Francis absent on the Way of the Cross

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Pope Francis did not take part in the Stations of the Cross in Rome's Colosseum “to protect his health before other events of Holy Week,” the Vatican said. For the first time since the beginning of his pontificate, Francis wrote reflections accompanying the 14 Stations of the Cross. Earlier, the pope presided over the service of the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Pope Francis, contrary to previous announcements, did not come to the Roman Colosseum to preside over the Way of the Cross on Good Friday evening. The Pope remained in the Vatican, RAI television reported just before the broadcast of the service.

After 9 p.m., the Vatican press office reported that in order to “preserve health” of the Pope, before Saturday's Easter Vigil Mass, he was observing the Stations of the Cross from the House of Saint Martha, where he lives. Early in the evening, the Vatican confirmed that the Pope would preside over the Via Crucis.

For over a month, 87-year-old Franciszek has had problems with his voice due to a respiratory infection he suffered.

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Francis was also absent from the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum last year. At the time, he was recovering from a hospital stay due to pneumonia.

Good Friday. Stations of the Cross in RomeReuters

The fact that the decision to resign from the Pope's participation in the service this year was made at the last minute is proven by the fact that by 9 p.m. everything was ready for his arrival, including the streets leading from the Vatican to the ancient amphitheater. The papal chair on the Palatine Hill stood empty. 25,000 people gathered around the Colosseum. people. The entire area was surrounded by reinforced security patrols.

Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum. Reflections written by the Pope

At 14 stations, the cross was carried by, among others, cloistered nuns, a hermit, a family, people with disabilities, people in care centers, members of a prayer group, confessors from Roman basilicas, migrants, catechists, parish priests from the Eternal City, youth, and representatives of Caritas.

For the first time since the beginning of his pontificate, Francis wrote reflections accompanying the 14 Stations of the Cross. “Prayer with Jesus on the way of the cross” is the title of the pope's reflections, read at subsequent stations. They were read by, among others, the presenter of the daily on RAI television, Giorgia Cardinaletti.

Read also: Paschal Triduum 2024. What is happening in churches

Francis devoted his reflections to war victims, women harassed by violence, abandoned elderly people, unborn children, and persecuted Christians.

The reflections included the prayer: “Father, have mercy on us and the whole world”, “Jesus – keep the Church and the world in peace.” As the pope added, “we live in merciless times and we need compassion.”

In his introduction, the pope wrote: “Wake us up, Lord, free us from the lethargy of our hearts, because today too, especially today, you need our prayers.” At the first station – Jesus was sentenced to death – Francis wrote: Jesus, “you are the truth, and you are subjected to a false trial. Why don't you protest? Why don't you raise your voice and present your reasons?”

“At the decisive moment you do not speak, you remain silent. Because the stronger the evil, the more radical your reaction is. And your response is silence. But your silence is fruitful: it is prayer, it is gentleness, it is forgiveness, it is the way to redeem evil,” he added .

He noted that all people carry their crosses: illness, accident, death of a loved one, emotional disappointment, loss of a child, lack of work, an internal wound that does not heal, failure of a project. There is refreshment in Jesus and in prayer. “Jesus, give me the strength to love and start anew,” the pope asked.

Further in his reflections, he said: “How often, when faced with life's challenges, we think that we can cope on our own! How difficult it is to ask for help, fearing that we will give the impression that we are unable to cope with the task, we who always try to do well and present yourself well.”

He drew attention to the phenomenon of “hurting shame and contempt” online. “You don't even need a macabre procession: a keyboard is enough to insult and publish sentences,” he said, referring to online haters.

Francis then devoted his reflections to women who “continue to be rejected, suffering insults and violence.” He encouraged us to reflect: “In the face of the tragedy of the world, is my heart made of ice or does it burst into tears? How do I react to the madness of war, to the faces of children who can no longer smile, to mothers who see them malnourished and hungry, and who no longer have tears?”.

The Pope recalled the fate of people stripped of their dignity, Christians humiliated by arrogance and injustice, “crucified brothers and sisters”, lonely and excluded people, oppressed and abandoned.

He then called for prayer: “Jesus, make me recognize and love You in unborn and abandoned children.” He prayed to Our Lady saying: “When I want the Church and the world to change, but I do not change, take my hand, Mary.”

In his final prayer, Francis wrote: “Jesus, on the cross you are thirsty, and you are thirsty for my love and my prayer; you need it to realize your plans for good and peace.”

“Jesus, let this intercessory prayer reach sisters and brothers who in many parts of the world suffer persecution because of Your name; to those who suffer from the tragedy of war, and to those who, drawing strength from You, bear heavy crosses.”

Stations of the Cross in the ColosseumPAP/EPA

Stations of the Cross in RomeReuters

Stations of the Cross in RomeReuters

Service of the Passion of the Lord in the Vatican

Earlier on Good Friday, Pope Francis presided over the Passion service in St. Peter's Basilica. 4,500 people participated in the liturgy, including 35 cardinals. During the Liturgy of the Word, the description of the Passion of the Lord according to the Gospel of Saint John was recalled.

According to the tradition dating back to the pontificate of St. John Paul II, the homily during this service was delivered by the preacher of the Papal Household, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa.

He said: “In the past, people eagerly talked about the 'triumph of the Holy Church'. They prayed for it and recalled historical events.”

Pope Francis during the service of the Passion of the Lord in the VaticanPAP/EPA/ETTORE FERRARI

– But what kind of triumph was meant? Today we realize how different this type of triumph was from Jesus' triumph. But let's not judge the past. There is always a risk of being unfair when you judge the past with the mentality of the present, emphasized the Italian monk.

He encouraged us to accept “the invitation that Jesus addresses to the world from the height of his cross: 'Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'.” – He addresses all humanity, all places and all times – added the preacher.

He explained that Jesus' words mean that no one is excluded from Jesus' invitation. – Come to me, you who are old, sick or alone, you whom the world allows to die in poverty, hunger and under bombs, you who are withering in a prison cell for your faith in me or for fighting for freedom, come – a woman, a victim of violence – he said.

Pope Francis, Good FridayPAP/EPA/ETTORE FERRARI

Good Friday in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, the Paschal Triduum begins on Thursday – the most important moment in the liturgical year of the Catholic Church. It is a celebration of the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ lasting three full days: from the evening mass on Holy Thursday to the evening vespers on Easter Sunday.

On Good Friday, the faithful (aged 18 to 60) observe strict fasting. They cannot eat meat and should limit themselves to one full meal. On this day, the Stations of the Cross are celebrated, followed by the Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord, the most important element of which is the unveiling of the Cross and its adoration. Good Friday is to commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ, no mass is celebrated on this day. Passion according to St. John is the central element of the Liturgy of the Word.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA

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