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Pope 'ashamed' by state of world

March 31, 2018

Pope Francis has presided over the Via Crucis procession at Rome's Colosseum under tight security. He told the crowd he felt shame because future generations would inherit a world "fractured by divisions and wars."

Pope Francis speaks into a microphone during the Via Crucis procession
Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. Bertorello

Pope Francis delivered his message to around 20,000 faithful who had gathered in the Italian capital's ancient Colosseum on Good Friday to commemorate Jesus' death on the cross.

The 81-year-old pontiff begged forgiveness as he spoke about the "shame" of "our generations…leaving young people a world that is fractured by divisions and wars, a world devoured by selfishness… in which the young, the sick, the old are marginalized."

Many in the crowd held candles as they took part in the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession, a ritual that re-enacts Christ's crucifixion.

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Pope presides over Way of the Cross procession

Authorities beefed up security in Rome for Holy Week following a number of anti-terror arrests. Around 10,000 officers were deployed across the city, with military jeeps and armored vehicles parked to form barriers against truck attacks at key tourist attractions. Law enforcement had also issued warnings about the potential threat posed by foreign fighters returning from Iraq and Syria.

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Nuns holding candles
Nuns attend the torchlight Via Crucis procession in the Colosseum on Good FridayImage: Getty Images/AFP/F. Monteforte

Shame and ego

Francis, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, praised those in the Church who are trying to revive "humanity's sleeping conscience" through their work helping the poor, immigrants, and prison inmates.

But he also expressed "shame because so many people, even some of your (God's) ministers, have let themselves be deceived by ambition and vainglory, thereby losing their worthiness."

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Good Friday marks the day the Bible says Jesus was crucified. The somber occasion is traditionally commemorated with a Way of the Cross service, which consists of 14 "stations" representing events from the time Roman governor Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death until his burial in a tomb. This year's meditations, read out at each station, were written by high school and college students in Rome.

Francis is expected to lead an Easter vigil service on Saturday night, with celebrations culminating on Easter Sunday with his twice-yearly "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message.

nm/bw (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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