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Pope withdraws from Good Friday event at last minute ‘to preserve health’ | Pope Francis

Pope Francis canceled his participation in the Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum at the last minute, in what the Vatican described as an attempt to “preserve his health” ahead of other commitments during Easter week.

Francis’ agenda for the next two days includes an Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, an Easter Mass and the delivery of his biannual Urbi et Orbi message and blessing (to the city and the world) on Sunday morning.

The sudden absence of the 87-year-old risks rekindling concerns about his decline. Francis uses a cane or wheelchair to get around due to a knee condition and suffers from repeated bouts of bronchitis and flu.

The Vatican announced the pope’s absence from the Via Crucis (stations of the cross) procession as it was about to begin, saying in a statement that he would follow it remotely from his Vatican residence.

Francis, who had seemed in better shape this week after weeks in which he struggled to speak in public and canceled some meetings, also missed the procession last year, after recovering from a four-day hospital stay for bronchitis.

The Via Crucis at the Colosseum is a re-enactment of Jesus’ death by crucifixion, in which participants take turns holding the cross while walking in and around the ancient Roman arena, stopping to pray and hear meditations.

Nuns, priests, a hermit, charity workers, migrants and people with disabilities were among those who took part in the service held at a monument believed to have been a place of martyrdom for early Christians.

Francis personally wrote this year’s meditations, a first in his 11-year pontificate. They included praise for gentleness and forgiveness in response to acts of evil, as well as prayers for persecuted Christians and victims of war.

The pope, who called for the Catholic Church to be less dominated by men, also praised the women who helped Jesus while he carried the cross, and pleaded for “those (women) who, today, are exploited and endure injustice and indignity.” “.

Earlier Friday, the pope joined cardinals and bishops for the Lord’s Passion service in St. Peter’s Basilica, which included chants in Latin recounting the events from Jesus’ arrest to his burial.

In previous years, Francis began the service by prostrating himself on the floor of the basilica, but his fragile state no longer allows him to do so. Instead, he arrived in a wheelchair and prayed silently at the main altar.

News Source : www.theguardian.com
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