Rome Newsroom, April 15, 2022 / 2:38 p.m. (CNA).
The Vatican adapted Pope Francis’ Stations of the Cross on Good Friday after an outcry in Ukraine over a station involving Ukrainian and Russian families.
the meditation for the 13th station, “Jesus dies on the cross”, was written by members of a Ukrainian family and a Russian family. As it happens, the meditation was not read during the Via Crucis at the Colosseum in Rome on April 15.
Instead, a reader said: “In the face of death, silence speaks louder than words. Let us therefore pause in prayerful silence and each in his heart pray for peace in the world.
During the silence, the cross was held firmly by two friends, Irina from Ukraine and Albina from Russia. women, who work together at Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital in Rome, looked at each other as they held the cross with tears in their eyes.
The original Via Crucis plan was strongly criticized by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who described it as “premature.”
“For Greek Catholics in Ukraine, the texts and gestures of the 13th Station of this Stations of the Cross are inconsistent and even offensive, especially in the context of the expected second and even bloodier attack by Russian troops on our towns and villages. “, he said.
Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, also expressed concern about the format.
Bishop Vitaliy Kryvytskyi, Latin Rite Bishop of Kyiv-Zhytomyr, described him as “incomprehensible.”
But Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica magazine, strongly defended the approach in the Italian media.
“Two women, Albina and Irina, will carry the cross on Good Friday. They won’t say a single word. Not even a request for forgiveness or anything like that. Nothing. They are under the Cross carrying it. Scandalously together,” he wrote in the Italian newspaper manifest.
“It will be a prophetic sign while the darkness is thick. Their being together, daughters of God and sisters in a war that has made them enemies from friends, is an appeal to God to give us the grace of reconciliation.
In a social media post after the Via Crucis, Spadaro said the 13th station was marked by an “extraordinary” silence that focused all attention on the cross carried by Irina and Albina.
The original text of the 13th Stations of the Cross meditation reflected the horror of war, without mentioning Ukraine by name.
He said: “Death everywhere. The life that seems to lose its value. Everything changes in seconds. Our life, our days, the carefree winter snow, taking the kids to school, to work, the hugs, the friendships…everything. Everything suddenly loses its meaning and value.
“’Where are you Lord? Where are you hiding? We want our life to go back to the way it was. Why all of this? What wrong have we done? Why did you abandon us? Why have you abandoned our peoples? Why did you break up our families like that? Why do we no longer want to dream and continue to live? Why has my land become as dark as Golgotha?’ »
“We have no more tears. Anger has given way to resignation. We know you love us, Lord, but we don’t feel that love and it drives us to despair. We wake up in the morning and feel happy for a few moments, but we suddenly think how difficult it will be to come to terms with all of this.
“Lord, where are you? Speak to us in the silence of death and division, and teach us to be peacemakers, brothers and sisters, and to rebuild what the bombs tried to destroy.
About 10,000 people attended the Pope’s ceremony Via Crucisheld at the Colosseum for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Roman tradition of making the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday dates back to the pontificate of Benedict XIV, who led the Church from 1740 to 1758.
After dying out for a while, the tradition was revived in 1964 by Pope Paul VI, while under Pope John Paul II the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum became a worldwide televised event.
Whereas once the Pope himself carried the cross from station to station around the Colosseum, it is now carried by individuals and families.
This year’s cross bearers included a widow, a family who lost a child, a young married couple and a missionary family.
According to the Vatican, 15 families have been selected to write the Stations of the Cross meditations to mark the Family year Amoris Laetitiawhich will end on June 26 with the 10th edition of the World Meeting of Familieswhich will be held in Rome.
As families circled the Colosseum behind a plain black cross, Pope Francis sat, listening intently in a velvet-covered chair on a raised platform.
At the end of broadcast live Via Crucis, the 85-year-old pope recited a prayer, before giving his apostolic blessing:
you make your sun rise on the good as well as on the bad.
Don’t give up the work of your hands,
for which you did not hesitate
to deliver your only begotten Son,
born of the Virgin
and crucified under Pontius Pilate.
He died and was buried in the heart of the earth.
He rose from the dead on the third day,
and appeared to Mary Magdalene,
to Peter and the other apostles and disciples.
He lives forever in the holy Church,
his living Body in the world.
Stay lit in our families
the gospel lamp,
that illuminates our joys and our sorrows, our struggles and our hopes:
May each home reflect the face of the Church,
whose supreme law is love.
By the outpouring of your Spirit,
help us to cast off the old man,
corrupted by illusory passions.
Dress us in the new man,
created in righteousness and holiness.
Take us by the hand, like a Father, lest we turn aside from you.
Turn our rebellious hearts to your own heart,
so that we can learn to pursue plans for peace.
Encourage opponents to shake hands,
and taste mutual forgiveness.
Disarm brother’s hand raised against brother,
so that where there is hatred, harmony will flourish.
Grant us never to act as enemies of the cross of Christ,
so that we can share in the glory of his resurrection.
He lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
forever and ever.
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