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Pope's Good Friday Meditations to Focus on Sex Slavery Victims


FILE - Pope Francis meets with the representatives of Italy's National Amateur League (Lega Nazionale Dilettanti) at the Vatican.

On Good Friday, Pope Francis presides over the Passion of the Lord service in Saint Peter’s Basilica taking part in the candle-lit Way of the Cross procession, attended by thousands of faithful at Rome’s ancient Colosseum. The meditations for this celebration have been written by Sister Eugenia Bonetti, an 80-year-old nun who, along with her missionary sisters, has spent the last quarter century fighting human trafficking.

Pope Francis has called forcing women into prostitution “a crime against humanity” and has urged Catholics “to open their eyes” to victims. The aim of Sister Bonett’s meditations will be to show the way in which Christ still suffers today. The 80-year-old is president of the Italian association “Slaves No More”, which provides assistance to women and children forced into the sex trade.

Pope Francis kisses a foot of an inmate during the celebrations of the Holy Thursday at the District House of Velletri prison, in Velletri near Rome, Italy, April 18, 2019.
Pope Francis kisses a foot of an inmate during the celebrations of the Holy Thursday at the District House of Velletri prison, in Velletri near Rome, Italy, April 18, 2019.

On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis celebrated the mass of the Lord’s Supper in the prison of Velletri, south of Rome. The prison is overcrowded and home to over 500 inmates, 60 percent of whom are foreigners. The pope reflected on the gesture of washing the feet, which at the times of Jesus, was the job of slaves and servants.

“Every one of us must be the servant of others," the pope said in his short homily. "This is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the gospel. The rule of service, not of domination, of hurting or humiliating others."

The pope told the inmates to be brothers in service, not in ambition, adding “The one who thinks he is the strongest, must be a servant. We must all be servants.”

Pope Francis greets inmates and guards as he arrives to celebrate the Holy Thursday at the District House of Velletri prison, in Velletri near Rome, Italy, April 18, 2019.
Pope Francis greets inmates and guards as he arrives to celebrate the Holy Thursday at the District House of Velletri prison, in Velletri near Rome, Italy, April 18, 2019.

Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates, including nine Italians, and one each from Morocco, Ivory Coast and Brazil. Also on Holy Thursday, the pope celebrated a morning Chrism mass in which he blessed the oils that will be used during the year.

An Easter Vigil will take place on Saturday evening in Saint Peter’s Basilica, ahead of Easter Sunday mass in the square, at the end of which the pope will give his traditional blessing to the city and to the world.

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