Pope Francis laments ‘all the crosses of the world’

Pope Francis laments ‘all the crosses of the world’

Pope Francis has used a Good Friday ceremony to decry “all the crosses” of suffering in the world.

He included those borne by migrants who find doors closed due to “political calculations” and children who are harmed in their “innocence and purity”, in a reference to paedophiles in the clergy.

From a canopied platform on the Palatine Hill, Francis watched the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlit night-time procession at the Colosseum in Rome, which solemnly recalls the crucifixion of Jesus.

The ceremony took place in front of the Colosseum in Rome (Andrew Medichini/AP)
The ceremony took place in front of the Colosseum in Rome (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Along with thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans, he listened to reflections that were composed by an elderly Italian nun, who for 25 years has gone out to the city’s streets to bring comfort and hope to migrant women who were trafficked into prostitution.

Francis prayed to Jesus to help “us to see in your cross all the crosses of the world”.

The pope cited persons starved for food and for love, and those “abandoned even by their own children or parents”.

Then he touched on two issues heavily marking his papacy – how to promote the cause of often rejected migrants and to deal with a sea of scandals over Catholic clergy’s sexual abuse of children.

Francis said migrants “find doors closed because of fear and hearts hardened by political calculations”.

He also decried the “cross of the little ones, wounded in their innocence and their purity”. Francis did not directly cite the church scandals.

Attendees at the procession included pilgrims, tourists and Romans (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Attendees at the procession included pilgrims, tourists and Romans (Andrew Medichini/AP)

The nun, Eugenia Bonetti, who works with many Nigerian women and other migrants who have fallen prey to human traffickers, spoke with Francis just before the start of the procession.

She told Rai state TV that “we are all responsible” for these women’s plight, saying “indifference is the biggest reason these girls are still on the street”.

In one of her meditations, read aloud as the faithful listened in utter silence, she said “it is easy to wear a crucifix on a chain around our neck or to use it to decorate the walls of our beautiful cathedrals or homes”.

Less easy is acknowledging “today’s newly crucified”, the homeless, unemployed youth, “immigrants relegated to slums at the fringe of our societies after having endured untold suffering,” the nun said.

Populist leaders in Italy and several other European countries have taken to holding a hard line against migrants, refusing to accept those rescued at sea from traffickers’ unseaworthy boats.

The US administration of Donald Trump is also determined to keep out illegal migrants.

Among those taking turns at carrying a lightweight cross in the procession were a Nigerian woman and her daughter.

Pope Francis presides over the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Pope Francis presides over the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession (Andrew Medichini/AP)

In his brief comments, expressed in the form of a prayer, Francis also spoke of the “cross of the church”, which he said “feels continuously under assault from the inside and the outside”.

The pontiff did not elaborate but staunchly conservative and more liberal factions among church hierarchy have been bitterly at odds during his six-year-old papacy.

Eroding the church’s moral credibility has been a flood of criticism from faithful and civil authorities in several countries over prelates’ systematic shuffling of paedophile priests from parish to parish for decades rather than remove them from access to children.

Earlier, during an evening prayer service, in St Peter’s Basilica, Francis kissed a crucifix held up in the centre aisle, then pressed his forehead for a moment against the wooden statue depicting Jesus.

In another moment, he prostrated himself on the basilica floor in a sign of humility.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Marvellous Mahdy strike sees UCD continue revival at Bohs’ expenseMarvellous Mahdy strike sees UCD continue revival at Bohs’ expense

Joe Hodge keeps cool to rescue IrelandJoe Hodge keeps cool to rescue Ireland

Everton sign Fabian Delph from Manchester CityEverton sign Fabian Delph from Manchester City

Here is how surgeons separated conjoined twins whose skulls were fused togetherHere is how surgeons separated conjoined twins whose skulls were fused together

More in this Section

Nine dead as plane carrying parachutists crashes in SwedenNine dead as plane carrying parachutists crashes in Sweden

Trump tells congresswomen to ‘go back to broken places from which they came’Trump tells congresswomen to ‘go back to broken places from which they came’

Healthy lifestyle may offset genetic risk of dementiaHealthy lifestyle may offset genetic risk of dementia

Heavy rain leaves scores dead in Nepal, India and BangladeshHeavy rain leaves scores dead in Nepal, India and Bangladesh


Lifestyle

This year heralds the return of a much-maligned shade, pulled from the design doldrums and now paired with some unexpected complementary colours, materials and tone-on-tone activity, writes Carol O’Callaghan.Fifty shades of beige

Their romance took Laura Roset and Ken Mohally from Mallow to Moldova and back again.Wedding of the Week: Love spreads from Mallow to Moldova

Every day, I take my wife a cup of tea in bed. However, we sometimes make love in the mornings and she pauses to finish her cup before it goes cold.Sexual healing: Her long tea breaks cools the moment

As the Caped Crusader hits 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Chris Wasser looks at the history of the world’s darkest superhero.80 years on, Batman still packs a punch

More From The Irish Examiner