Pope marks Good Friday amid tight security; urges people to rediscover shame

ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis has led Roman Catholics in Good Friday services under close confidence, urging people, including his church ministers, to rediscover their ability to feel shame for their role in world sickness.

Pope Francis leads the Via Crosses procession (through the cross) during the Good Friday celebrations at the Coliseum in Rome, Italy, March 30, 2018. REUTERS / Remo Casilli
81-year-old Francis at the traditional Via Crucis parade around the ancient Colosseum of Rome, attended by 20,000 people on a day when Christians mark the death of Jesus in crucifixion.

Security was tight last year, with more testing as participants approached the area. This week, Italian police conducted four raids against suspected Islamist terrorist supporters, arresting seven people, including one man planning a truck attack.

The Coliseum, in the historical center of Rome, is one of the tourist attractions in the city where the police set up military jeeps and armored vehicles to create roadblocks against truck attacks. Some were also established near the Vatican.

Francis, speaking at the end of the beacon service, expressed his words about the shame and repentance, raising the image of a modern world in which pride, arrogance and selfishness often overpower humility and generosity.

Speaking in gloomy tones, he spoke of “shame because so many people, even some of your ministers (God), have been allowed to be deceived by ambition and humiliation, thus losing their sight …”

Since his election in 2013, Francis has often implored Catholic priests and Prat to live simply, serve others and not seek career and status in church or society at all.

Good Friday, the darkest day in the Christian liturgical calendar, marks the day the Bible says that Jesus was crucified. The Cross Service marks 14 events, called stations, since Roman Governor Pontius Pilton condemned Jesus to death until his burial.

Francis said that many people in the world should feel “shame for having lost a sense of shame,” adding that shame could be seen as “grace” from God.

He said many should feel “shame because our generations leave young people a world broken by divisions and wars, a world of selfish scorn …”

The leader of the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world praised those in the church who are trying to inspire “the conscience of humanity” through their work to help the poor, immigrants and incarcerated.

This year’s meditations, one for each of the “stations,” were written by high school and college students in Rome.

Earlier on Friday at the St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis stabilized in the service of the Lord’s Desire, during which he prayed in prayer on the marble sidewalk.

On Saturday night, Francis leads an Easter vigil service and on Easter Sunday he delivers his “Urbi et Orbi” message twice a year (to the city and to the world).

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