Ukrainians are critical
Pope celebrates Stations of the Cross with controversial gesture
Two friends, both nurses, one from Ukraine, the other from Russia, carry the cross together at the request of Pope Francis during the Good Friday prayer. Critics see it as a trivialization of the Russian war against Ukraine.
Despite criticism from Ukraine, a Ukrainian and a Russian carried the cross together for a piece during the traditional Stations of the Cross devotion in Rome. The Vatican wanted to put a peace sign with the action on Good Friday evening. However, bishops and church representatives in Ukraine had previously spoken out against the action because they believed it would not adequately portray Russia as an aggressor.
Pope Francis, who celebrated the Stations of the Cross in front of around 10,000 believers at the Colosseum for the first time since 2019 after two Corona cancellations, stuck to the plan with the two women. At least the Vatican changed the text which was then read at short notice. The 85-year-old pontiff, who has long suffered from knee problems, watched the ‘Via Crucis’ procession while seated in front of the ancient amphitheater. The two nurses and friends who live in Rome carried the cross in remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ at the 13th and penultimate station. This commemorates the death of Christ. The text for this section of the trail has been changed at short notice.
“In the face of death, silence speaks louder than words,” he said. Afterwards, those present were invited to pray in silence for world peace. The pope buried his face behind his hand. The text initially planned was: “Where are you Lord? Where are you hiding ? We want to get our old life back. Why all this? What mistake did we make? Why did you let us down? Many Ukrainians found this inappropriate.
Cardinal visits Borodyanka
Prior to this, Francis celebrated the Good Friday liturgy “Passion of the Lord” in St. Peter’s Basilica. The celebration commemorating the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was presided over by the head of the Catholic Church – but the sermon was delivered by Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher of the papal household. Francis watched the celebration largely seated; the 85-year-old has long suffered from knee problems.
He also refrained from lying in front of the altar and praying as usual at the start of the Good Friday liturgy. Instead, the Argentine stopped for a moment. Meanwhile, Cardinal Konrad Kraevski, sent by the Vatican because of the war in Ukraine, visited the kyiv suburb of Borodyanka, which had been badly destroyed and from where Russian atrocities were reported. Poland’s Krajewski – who is in charge of distributing alms in the Vatican – prayed in front of a mass grave, as announced by the Holy See. “There are no tears, no words,” the curia cardinal said of the experience.