May 24, 2019
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Pope leads Way of the Cross procession dedicated to migrants

By Laura Serrano-Conde

Rome, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Pope Francis presided over a Way of the Cross procession in Rome on Good Friday evening in honor of victims of human trafficking and migrants and lamented that they often find closed doors at the countries they are trying to reach.

Francisco presided over the Way of the Cross procession in front of the Colosseum in Rome, itself a symbol of the persecution and suffering of the first Christians, and in front of thousands of people who had gathered in the vicinity hours before and who attended the rite carrying candles.

During his prayer, Jorge Bergoglio rejected social injustices he referred to as the present-day crosses of the world, citing among them 'the cross of migrants who find doors closed because of fear, and hearts sealed by political calculations," and "the cross of humanity that wanders in the darkness of uncertainty and in the darkness of the culture of the fleeting moment."

He also deplored the fact that there are families that are "broken by betrayal, by the seductions of the evil one or by murderous lightness and by selfishness," that there are people "hungry for bread and love", people "abandoned even by their own children and relatives", and people who "do not have the comfort of faith."

At the same time he spoke of "those who thirst for justice and peace," and remembered the "elderly who are bowed down under the weight of years and loneliness", but also the children "wounded in their innocence and purity."

As he has done on previous occasions during his pontificate, he criticized the fact that in today's societies there are people who are rejected and marginalized.

In this sense, he addressed a message to believers who, having faith and "trying to live according to" the word of God, "find themselves marginalized and discarded even by their families and their peers," and also to consecrated persons who try to bring God's light into the world and "feel rejected, mocked and humiliated."

Francis ended his prayer by repudiating the weaknesses of human beings, their hypocrisy, their betrayals, their sins and their broken promises.

The Pope arrived at around 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) at the Palatine Hill, near the Flavian Amphitheatre, and was received by the mayor of the capital, Virginia Raggi, with whom he spoke for a few moments.

The area around the Colosseum had been cordoned off with a strong police and security presence and traffic was blocked several hours earlier to ensure safety.

Pope Francis attended the route of the cross in deep recollection, which ran through the interior of the Colosseum - the famous Flavian amphitheatre, which recalls the sufferings of the first Christians -, continued in front of the Arch of Constantine and concluded on Palatine Hill.

The procession advanced along this way while the meditations were read at the fourteen stations, this year the meditations were written by Italian nun Eugenia Bonetti, from the Consolata Missionary, known for having dedicated her life to the fight against human trafficking.

The Via Crucis rite was established in 1741 by order of Pope Benedict XIV, although its practice fell into oblivion with the passage of time and it was not celebrated again until 1925.

It was in 1964 that Pope Paul VI chose the Roman Colosseum to as the location for the procession.

This Good Friday the Pope also commemorated the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, in an act in which the Preacher of the Papal Household, Raniero Cantalamessa, asked all religions not to remain indifferent to poverty.

The Pope attended the ceremony dressed in red vestments, seated on a throne in front of the sculpture of St. Peter and in silence, without speaking any homily, since the Liturgy of Good Friday is the only one of the year in which there is no consecration, but communion.

The pontiff will continue the rites of the Holy Week on Saturday, with the Easter Vigil, which he will preside over in the Vatican Basilica, while on Easter Sunday he will celebrate a Mass in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican and then from the central lodge of the Basilica he will impart the traditional blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (To the city and to the world).

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