Friday 29 March 2024

For second year in a row, pope skips Good Friday Via Crucis

Vatican confirms pope will preside over Easter Vigil after he skipped Good  Friday at last minute – 104.5 WOKV

Pope Francis on Friday night opted out at the last minute of leading the traditional Lenten Via Crucis prayer at Rome’s Colosseum in order to preserve his energy, marking the second year in a row that he has skipped the event.

In a brief statement sent minutes before the Via Crucis was set to begin, and despite having confirmed the pope’s presence hours earlier, the Vatican said the pope would not attend in order “to preserve his health in light of the vigil tomorrow and Easter Mass on Sunday.”

Instead, the Vatican said the pope would follow the livestream of the prayer from the Santa Marta guesthouse in Vatican City where he resides.

This marks the second year in a row that Pope Francis, 87, did not preside over the late-night event, which began at 9:15 p.m. local time, and it comes amid ongoing concerns about his health, as he has struggled with respiratory troubles throughout the year and has at times relied on aides to read prepared speeches for him.

Last year Pope Francis did not attend the event in person but watched from his residence at the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse due to cold weather, having been released from the hospital a week prior due to a serious bout of bronchitis.

Concerns over his health spiked leading into Holy Week this year when he skipped his Palm Sunday homily, however, he appeared recovered Thursday, presiding over the traditional Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and an evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a women’s prison in Rome.

Prior to Friday’s Via Crucis, he led a Passion service in St. Peter’s Basilica, where he listened to papal preacher Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa speak about humility being Jesus’s true power.

Pope Francis for the first time in his 11-year papacy wrote the meditations for the Good Friday Via Crucis himself, which highlight Jesus’s sacrifice as a source hope for those in despair and urge faithful to turn to Jesus with love, trust and gratitude.

On Saturday the pope is expected to preside over the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica at 7:30p.m. local time, and he is also scheduled to preside over Mass on Easter morning, followed by his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing to the city and to the world.