Thousands of pilgrims joined Pope Benedict at Rome's ancient Colosseum on Good Friday. They took part in the traditional candlelit Way of the Cross procession commemorating Christ's suffering before his crucifixion.
As is tradition on Good Friday, Pope Benedict XVI took part in the evening Way of the Cross procession at Rome's Colosseum, one of the most solemn ceremonies in the Christian calendar. Thousands of pilgrims turned out holding candles to commemorate the final hours and death of Jesus on the cross.
The faithful listened to the meditations read out for each of the 14 Stations of the Cross. This year the meditations written by Cardinal Camillo Ruini were focused on a call to look at the evil and sin that are inside us and that too often we feign to ignore.
Pope Benedict, wearing a bright red robe, held the large wooden cross for the final two stations before his final reflections. He said, "Tonight we have followed the Way of the Cross. With Jesus we went reached the Calvary, we meditated on his suffering, rediscovering how deep his love has been and is for us."
Earlier Friday, Pope Benedict presided over a solemn Passion of the Lord service in Saint Peter's Basilica.
During that ceremony, the pope's personal preacher likened accusations against Benedict and the church in the child sex abuse scandal to the collective violence suffered by Jews.
But the pope's spokesman immediately distanced himself from the papal preacher's comments, after both Jews and a leading abuse victims group reacted sharply criticizing the comparison with violence that culminated in the Holocaust to the accusations made against Benedict.
On Saturday, Pope Benedict is to lead an Easter vigil service in St Peter's and on Sunday he is due to deliver his traditional Easter message and blessing.