Domenica, 23 Settembre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Francis celebrates first Good Friday as pope

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Vatican City, March 29 - Pope Francis's intense
Holy Week schedule continued on Friday when he celebrated his
first Good Friday as pontiff with some of the Catholic Church's
most revered rituals.
The Argentine pope presided over a Mass devoted to the
Passion of Christ in St Peter's on the holiday commemorating His
crucifixion. He started the ceremony by lying prostrate before
the basilica's main altar in silent prayer.
He was then set to follow the Via Crucis, or Stations of
the Cross, trek around the Colosseum.
In the hugely popular televised ceremony the Catholic
Church recalls Christ's path to the hill of the crucifixion, His
death on the cross and His body being taken to the tomb.
At each of the 14 stages of the procession, 'meditations'
are read out.
Popes frequently carry the cross for some of the stations.
But Francis, 76, has opted to follow the ceremony from the
nearby Palatine Hill, where the Via Crucis ends, as his
predecessor Benedict XVI did in the latter years of his papacy.
Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Vicar General of
Rome, a disabled person, Italian and Nigerian nuns, and some
Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land were among the
people selected to carry the cross this time.
The 2013 Via Crucis meditations were written by a group of
young Catholics from Lebanon, under the guidance of the Maronite
Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Rai, who was invited to prepare them
following Benedict's visit to Lebanon last year.
Many of the themes touched on during the meditations were
inspired by the plight of the minority Christian communities in
the Middle East.
An example is the meditation for Station X, when Jesus is
stripped of his garments, written by Lebanese Tony El Chayeb.
"Bestow, Lord, upon the children of the Eastern Churches -
stripped by various difficulties, sometimes to the point of
persecution, and weakened by emigration - the courage to remain
in their countries to proclaim the Good News," reads part of the
meditation.
Francis, who was elected as pope on March 13 after Benedict
shocked the world last month by announcing he was stepping down,
kicked off Holy Week with last weekend's Palm Sunday Mass in St
Peter's Square.
He has already charmed the faithful with his relaxed, open,
modest style that has contrasted with Benedict's more reserved
approach, even though the new pope has shown virtually no
difference from his predecessor on social and doctrinal issues.
Bolstering his growing reputation for humility, Francis put
a new twist on a papal Easter ritual Thursday by washing and
kissing the feet of 12 juvenile offenders in a Rome detention
centre.
Popes usually wash the feet of 12 priests, representing the
apostles at the Last Supper.
Indeed, some Catholic conservatives were unhappy that among
the 12 juveniles were two young women, an Italian Catholic and a
Muslim ethnic Serb born in Rome.
There were concerns this could be interpreted as an
opening to the ordination of women priests, but this has been
denied.
Kneeling before the group, the pope called the act "a
caress from Jesus.
"Jesus came exactly for this reason, to serve, to help us,"
he said. "Don't let your hope be stolen away".
Francis will celebrate an Easter eve service late Saturday.
Then he will preside over his first Easter Sunday in St
Peter's Square as pope.
Easter Sunday represents the day of the resurrection of
Jesus, making it the most important moment in the Church's
liturgical calendar.
At the Mass Francis will deliver his first Urbi et Orbi (to
the city and the world) papal address.

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