April 21, 2024

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Rome Colosseum | The Pope canceled his participation in the Stations of the Cross at the last minute

Rome Colosseum |  The Pope canceled his participation in the Stations of the Cross at the last minute

(Rome) Pope Francis, 87, canceled his participation in the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome at the last minute on Friday amid continuing concerns about his health.


“In view of tomorrow's vigil and Easter Sunday Mass, Pope Francis will follow the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum this evening from Sainte-Marthe House,” the Vatican announced in a press release.

During the announcement, seconds before the start of the ceremony, organizers removed the Pope's chair from the hill in front of the Colosseum.

Photo by Gregorio Borgia, Associated Press

Organizers carry Pope Francis' chair before the Stations of the Cross begin at the Colosseum.

“It was a simple measure of prudence,” a Vatican source said, assuring the pope's health, which had appeared “in good condition” in recent hours, was “of no particular concern.”

The decision, however, rekindles questions about the pope's ability to continue governing the Catholic Church, while leaving the door “open” to a possible abdication, in line with his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

In an autobiography published this month, he reiterated that there was no “serious reason” for relinquishing his office, a “remote hypothesis” that would only be justified in the event of a “serious physical impediment”.

The Argentine Jesuit had already canceled his participation in the Stations of the Cross in 2023 for health reasons, but the decision was prematurely announced following a three-day hospitalization for bronchitis.

Busy week

In recent days, the Bishop of Rome has honed his busy schedule with several ceremonies as part of Holy Week, the main highlight of the Catholic calendar leading up to Easter.

The head of the Catholic Church presided over the planned celebration of Christ's Passion at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Friday afternoon.

Photo via Vatican Media, Reuters

Pope Francis

On Thursday, he appeared smiling as he washed the feet of 12 women jailed in Rome and took part in a walk.

He presides over Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday mornings, before giving the “Urbi et Arbi” (“To the City and the World”) blessing, during which he generally reviews international conflicts.

George Bergoglio, who uses a wheelchair, has faced increasing health problems in recent years, particularly with his knees, hips and colon.

He underwent stomach surgery in June and canceled his trip to Dubai for COP28 in December due to bronchitis.

In recent days, he has been forced on several occasions to read certain texts for health reasons.

On Friday evening, in the spectacular setting of an illuminated Roman amphitheater, thousands of faithful from many countries, often with candles in hand, silently witnessed the “Via Crucis.”

“We are disappointed. It can be understood, but it is sad, because his presence this evening is important,” answered at the end of the ceremony, the 17-year-old Italian scout Edoardo Conforti, who came from Genoa (Northwest) for this event. .

Unprecedented since his election in 2013, the Pope himself wrote meditative texts that were read at each of the 14 Stations of the Cross symbolizing Christ's trial from his crucifixion, death and burial. tradition.

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