Pope presides at Via Crucis
Thousands of faithful filled the Coliseum on Friday night for the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis.
The reflections accompanying the Stations this year were composed by Italian Bishop Renato Corti, Bishop-Emeritus of Novara.
Entitled “The Cross: Radiant Culmination of God’s Protective Love,” Bishop Corti’s reflections drew attention to different types of suffering in the world, such as child abuse, human trafficking and Christian persecution. The cross was carried by families of different nationalities, as well as individuals from nations where Christians are currently being persecuted, such as Iraq, Syria, and China.
The second station, when Jesus takes up his cross, commemorated Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who was martyred in Pakistan in 2011, and the words he spoke before his death: “I want my life, my character and my actions to speak for me, and to say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. This is so strong a desire in me that I would consider it a privilege if Jesus should wish to accept the sacrifice of my life.”
The tenth station, where Jesus is stripped of his garments, recalled those who suffer child abuse and human trafficking in the world, accompanied with the prayer “You urge us in humility to beg forgiveness of all who have suffered these atrocities, and to pray that the conscience of those who darkened their lives will at last be stirred. In your presence, Jesus, we renew our resolve to “overcome evil with good.”
At the conclusion of the Stations, Pope Francis said the Via Crucis is the “synthesis” of Jesus’ life and the “Icon of obedience” to God the Father.
In words that recalled the recent execution of Christians in Kenya, the Pope prayed, “In you, divine love, we see also today our persecuted brothers and sisters, decapitated and crucified for their faith in you, before our eyes and often with our complicit silence.”
He prayed that the faithful might learn to never tire of asking forgiveness and to believe in his unlimited mercy. He then recited the Anima Christi and urged those present to go home, filled with the hope of the joyous resurrection.
Listen to the report by Andrew Summerson: