ROME, APRIL 15, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI made special mention of the sufferings of the world, especially those of children, in the first Way of the Cross at the Colosseum that he led as Pope.
Some 50,000 people illuminated the night with their candles, gathering at the ancient Roman landmark, “where many suffered for Christ, gave their lives for the Lord and, in this way, the Lord has suffered again in so many persons,” said the Holy Father in an impromptu address at the end of the Good Friday event.
The 14 Stations of the Cross took place in the Colosseum and in the area that leads to the Palatine Hill which looks over the Imperial Forum.
Benedict XVI carried the cross at the beginning and at the end. It was carried to the other stations by several “Cyreneans,” among whom were Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s vicar for Rome; a family from this city; an American seminarian; a nun; a young Mexican woman; and two friars of the Holy Land Custody.
“On the cross of Christ,” the Pontiff said, “we have seen today the suffering of abandoned and abused children, the threats against the family, the division of the world between the arrogance of the rich, who do not see Lazarus at the door, and the poverty of so many who suffer due to hunger and thirst.”
He added, however, that, with the suffering of the Way of the Cross, there is also consolation.
The Holy Father cited the Blessed Virgin Mary, who consoled Jesus with her presence; Veronica, who wiped the sweat from his face; and Simon of Cyrene, “an African who carries the cross with Jesus.”
“Thus we have understood that the Way of the Cross is not simply a list of what is dark and sad in the world or a moralism which in the end is ineffective; it is not a cry of protest which changes nothing,” Benedict XVI said.
“On the contrary, the Way of the Cross is the way of mercy, mercy that puts a limit to evil, as we learned from Pope John Paul II,” he added. “It is the way of mercy and so the way of salvation. It invites us to undertake the way of mercy and, with Jesus, to put a limit to evil.”
On this occasion, the meditations and prayers of the Way of the Cross were written by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the Pope’s vicar for Vatican City State (see ZENIT’s Documents section).