News / Europe

Pope's Good Friday Service Underscores Plight of Suffering

Pope Francis bows his heads and closes his eyes during the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession in Rome, April 18, 2014.
Pope Francis bows his heads and closes his eyes during the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession in Rome, April 18, 2014.
Reuters
The plight of immigrants, the poor, the sick, the elderly, unemployed and prisoners dominated Pope Francis' Good Friday service at Rome's Colosseum as he led Catholics around the world in commemorating the day Jesus died.

The pope, in the run-up to the second Easter of his pontificate, presided at the traditional "Via Crucis" (Way of the Cross) service around the ancient Roman ruin.

Sitting on a chair on the Palatine Hill just opposite the Colosseum and often kneeling to pray, he listened intently as meditations inspired by the 14 "stations of the cross" were read to the crowd of thousands holding candles.

Pairs of immigrants, prisoners, homeless, elderly, women, disabled, former drug addicts and others alternated carrying a large cross between each of the stations which describe the main events in the last hours of Jesus' life.

This year's meditations
Faithful attend the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, April 18, 2014.Faithful attend the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, April 18, 2014.
x
Faithful attend the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, April 18, 2014.
Faithful attend the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession celebrated by Pope Francis in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, April 18, 2014.
were written by Italian Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, who has been in the front line in the fight against organized crime in southern Italy and one of the country's most socially progressive Churchmen.

One spoke of "all those wrongs which created the economic crisis and its grave social consequences: job insecurity, unemployment, dismissals, an economy that rules rather than serves, financial speculation, suicide among business owners, corruption and usury, the loss of local industry."

Others spoke of the plight of battered women, abused children, home-bound and lonely elderly, prisoners who endure torture, victims of organised crime and loansharks.

Bed of Pain

"Today, many of our brothers and sisters, like Jesus, are nailed to a bed of pain, at hospital, in homes for the elderly, in our families. It is a time of hardship, with bitter days of solitude and even despair," another meditation read.

The participants at the event were urged to listen to "the cry of those persecuted, the dying, the terminally ill..."

In brief words at the end of the service, Francis urged the crowd to "remember all the abandoned people" and spoke of the "monstrosity of man" when he lets himself be guided by evil.

It was Francis's second Good Friday event. Hours earlier, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics attended a service in St. Peter's Basilica where the Vatican's official preacher said huge salaries and the world financial crisis were modern evils caused by the "cursed hunger for gold".

That long service was one of the few times during the year that the pope listens while someone else preaches.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, whose title is "preacher of pontifical household," weaved his sermon around the character of Judas Iscariot, who the Bible says betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

"Behind every evil in our society is money, or at least in part," Cantalamessa said at the solemn service that included chanting by priests recounting the last hours of Jesus' life.

"The financial crisis that the world has gone through and that this country [Italy] is still going through - is it not in large part due to the cursed hunger for gold?" he said.

"Is it not also a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice?" he said.

Francis, who has made caring for the poor a central theme of his pontificate, said in December that huge salaries and bonuses were symptoms of an economy based on greed and inequality.

On Saturday, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholic celebrates an Easter Eve service in St. Peter's Basilica and on Sunday he delivers his twice yearly "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message.

On Sunday, April 27, Francis will canonize Pope John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005, and Pope John XXIII, who was pontiff from 1958 to 1963 and called the Second Vatican Council, a landmark meeting that modernised the Church.

Hundreds of thousands of people are due to come to Rome for the canonizations, the first time two popes are be made saints at the same time and the first canonization of a pope since 1954.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid