VATICAN CITY, APR. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The writings of John Henry Newman, a standout figure of 19th-century English Catholicism, will provide the text for this year´s Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday.
John Paul II´s decision to use the writing is connected with the celebration of the second centenary of Cardinal Newman´s birth. The cardinal, a convert from Anglicanism, was a pioneer of ecumenism and is regarded as a spiritual father of the Second Vatican Council.
Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) wrote two meditations for Good Friday, one long, the other brief. The latter is especially appreciated by John Paul II, who will use it for reflection during the Stations of the Cross next week. The text is found at http://www.newmanreader.org.
In previous years, John Paul II chose text from great poets, writers and Christian pastors — and not always from Catholics. Last year, the Holy Father himself wrote the text of the stations, which mark the steps of Jesus toward his death on Calvary.
Among the authors who inspired the Pope in previous years are Cardinals Miguel Obando Bravo of Managua, Nicaragua; Miloslav Vlk of Prague; and Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as theologians Hans Urs von Balthasar and Orthodox Olivier Clement.
Three Christian patriarchs also wrote papal meditations on Jesus´ passion: Patriarch Karekin I, Catholicos of Armenians (not Catholic); Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, “primus inter pares” of the Orthodox Churches; and Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem.
In addition, two women have composed meditations for previous Ways of the Cross: Mother Anna Maria Canopi, abbess of the Benedictines of the Island of San Giulio in Novara, Italy, and Sister Minke de Vries, a nun of the Protestant community of Grandchamp in Switzerland.
Paul VI began the tradition of holding the Stations in Rome´s Colosseum. It has become one of the most moving events of Holy Week in Rome. Pilgrims follow the nighttime procession carrying candles.
When the Way of the Cross ends, the Holy Father will give a talk about the Lord´s passion. The event is transmitted live on television worldwide.