Pope Prays That God Would Bring Adversaries To Shake Hands

Ukrainian and Russian women at the Via Crucis at the Colosseum on April 15, 2022.
Ukrainian and Russian women at the Via Crucis at the Colosseum on April 15, 2022. (AFP)

The war in Ukraine featured the traditional Good Friday Colosseum procession in Rome, although Francis did not mention the fighting countries.

For the first time since before the pandemic, the solemn torchlit procession returned to the ancient arena in Rome Friday night. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists held small, lit candles as Pope Francis, looking pensive and wearing a white coat against the damp night air, sat under a canopy placed on an elevated viewing point.

Hold us by the hand, like a Father, so that we do not turn away from You; convert our rebellious hearts to your heart, because we learn to follow projects of peace; it leads opponents to shake hands, so that they may enjoy mutual forgiveness; disarms the raised hand of his brother against his brother, so that where there is hatred harmony may flourish, Pope Francis prayed. Arrange for us not to behave as enemies of the cross of Christ, to participate in the glory of his resurrection, he added.

Faced with death, silence is more eloquent than words. Let us therefore rest in prayerful silence and each one in his own heart pray for peace in the world, the narrator would say at each Station of the Cross.

Participants were then invited to pause and “pray for peace in the world.”

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the text was shortened to allow people to stay in “silence and in prayer.”

Ukrainians Protested Against Russian Woman Carrying The Cross

The two women, who work together at a Rome hospital carried the Cross and looked with tears in their eyes for a long moment as they carried the cross.

At each Station of the Cross, reflecting details of Jesus’ suffering and death by crucifixion, a different family walked with the cross, and meditations, written by them, were read aloud.

The women were identified only by their first names in interviews on Italian Rai state TV: Irina, a nurse from Ukraine and Albina, a Russian nursing student.

Ahead of the procession, Albina told Rai that it was important to “pray for the children who are no more, for the soldiers who lost their lives and can’t even be buried.” Irina described the sharing of the cross-carrying as a “great responsibility.”

Vatican’s choice of a Russian woman to share bearing the cross with a Ukrainian woman had angered Ukrainians. Ukrainian televisions did not broadcast the service.

Russian and Ukrainian women contributed to the text of a meditation

The original script, written with the women’s input, had spoken of prospects for “reconciliation.” That wording had sparked protests by both the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See and a Kyiv archbishop.

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