Pope Francis, who earlier presided at a two-hour-long service in St Peter’s Basilica commemorating Christ’s Passion, sat on a balcony overlookng the Colosseum for the torch-lit ceremony. Various groups and people from different parts of the world carried a wooden cross from one to another of the fourteen stations. The Sistine Chapel Choir sang refrains to prayers in Latin, while an Italian actress helped read spiritual meditations that had been written earlier by young Catholics from Lebanon.
“We now continue this Via Crucis in our daily lives,” Pope Francis told those gathered in his final remarks. “Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Christ — who loves us very much!” he added.
A choir of Maronite priests and seminarians from Lebanon then concluded the evening with a haunting chant in Arabic.
God never condemns
Pope Francis’ homily during the Via Crucis
Dear Brother and Sisters,
Thank you for having taken part in these moments of deep prayer. I also thank those who have accompanied us through the media, especially the sick and elderly.
I do not wish to add too many words. One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself. The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Remember this! God judges us by loving us! If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.
Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did. This evening we have heard the witness given by our Lebanese brothers and sisters: they composed these beautiful prayers and meditations. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for this work and for the witness they offer. We were able to see this when Pope Benedict visited Lebanon: we saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion joining Christians together in that land and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others. That occasion was a sign to the Middle East and to the whole world: a sign of hope.
We now continue this Via Crucis in our daily lives. Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness. Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus – who loves us very much! He is all love!
Pope Francis gave this homily during the Via Crucis at the Colosseum in Rome on 29 March 2013