The war in Ukraine overshadows the Pope’s Good Friday services

Pope Francis led a solemn Good Friday service commemorating the final hours of Jesus’ life, with the shadow of war in Ukraine hanging over the darkest day on the Christian calendar.

Francis, 85, who has recently suffered from knee and leg pain, walked with a limp down the main aisle of St. Peter’s at the beginning and end of the service known as The Passion of St. Peter’s Basilica Mr.

However, he did not prostrate himself on the marble floor as he did at the beginning of similar past services. Instead, he stood with his head bowed for a few minutes.

Francis later sat while cantors and a choir sang gospel verses recounting events from Jesus’ arrest to his burial.

The Good Friday service is one of the few events where the pope does not preach, leaving it to the preacher of the papal household, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa.

“This year we’re not celebrating Easter with the happy ringing of bells, but with the sound of bombs and explosions not far from here in our ears,” Catalamessa said, referring to the war in Ukraine.

Cantalamessa paraphrased the biblical call for peace “Make your swords into ploughshares and your spears into hooks” and spoke of “hurling rockets into factories and houses”.

On Friday evening, Francis was to lead a candlelit procession called the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at the Colosseum in Rome.

This year, the Vatican’s decision to allow both Ukrainians and Russians to participate in part of the procession has sparked tensions with Ukrainian Catholic leaders, who have called for a re-examination.

On Saturday evening, Pope Francis will lead an Easter Vigil Mass in the basilica.

On Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar, he will say Mass in St. Peter’s Square and then deliver his message and blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) twice a year. The war in Ukraine overshadows the Pope’s Good Friday services

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