Good Friday celebrations like before the pandemic and in the shadow of war

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Good Friday celebrations, led by Pope Francis, will follow the traditional path, without changes imposed by restrictions. The Way of the Cross will take place again in Rome’s Colosseum, and not in St. Peter’s Square, with a small number of faithful.

On the day the Church remembers the passion and death of Jesus on the cross, RAI television will broadcast a special conversation with the Pope at 2 pm. According to an announcement by Italian public television, in the program “Hope during the siege”, Francis will speak about the sufferings affecting humanity, starting with the war in Ukraine.

In the revealed interview fragment, the pope would say: “We are shocked by the war in Europe at the moment, but let’s look a little further; the world is at war. There are wars everywhere, because the world – hard to say – chose Cain’s plan. .”

At 17.00 in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope will preside over the liturgy of the Passion. Participants will pray for peace and for countries “torn apart by the atrocities of war”.

9:15 p.m. The Way of the Cross at the Colosseum will begin; again after a gap of two years. This year, Francis entrusted the writing of the accompanying devotional to the family. This idea refers to Amoris Laetitia’s current Family Year on the fifth anniversary of the publication of his counsel under this title.

The family will carry the cross during successive stations in the ancient amphitheater. Considerations are prepared by, among others, young couples and parents – no children, families: large, foster, adopted, with disabled children, with sick children, migrant families, as well as Ukrainian and Russian families. Together they will carry the cross at the thirteenth stop from behind.

Her meditations are written by a nurse from Ukraine – Irina, who works in a palliative care center at a university hospital in Rome, and a Russian student, Albina, who studies nursing. They were friends who met in the hospital ward.

It was this choice, meant to symbolize reconciliation, that caused controversy and concern, including among the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, Andriy Jurasz. He expressed hope that appeals from Ukrainians concerned about this idea would be heard. The diplomat noted that he expressed the opinion of “the majority of the population of Ukraine, who asked not to do anything like this at this time”.

“Ukraine is very grateful to the Pope for every gesture of support and solidarity,” Jurasz assured. He went on to explain: “But the first thing to understand is that with Russia we are not + a sister country + as some would like to introduce; we are two sides fighting in Europe’s worst conflict since the Second World War.”

“We didn’t attack Russia and we didn’t fight on the territory of a third country. It was they who invaded us, killed thousands of people, and destroyed entire cities. Was it possible during the Second World War for prisoners? from the camps to participate in reconciliation initiatives with whom are these camps? – asked the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See.

Concerns about this initiative were shared by Ukraine’s Greek Catholic head, Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk, who found it “inappropriate and ambiguous, because he did not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.”

The Vatican did not officially respond to these protests.

They also joined the Italian-Ukrainian association, which asked the Vatican to replace the Russian family, who carried the cross with the Ukrainian family, replaced by Poland as the European representative accepting war refugees.

From the Vatican Sylvia Wysocka

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