April 18 - Pope Francis presides at the traditional Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum with prisoners, elderly and homeless taking turns carrying the cross. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The plight of immigrants, the poor, the sick, the elderly, unemployed and prisoners dominated Pope Francis' Good Friday service at Rome's Colosseum as he led Catholics around the world in commemorating the day Jesus died. The pope, in the run-up to the second Easter of his pontificate, presided at the traditional "Via Crucis" (Way of the Cross) service around the ancient Roman ruin. Sitting on a chair on the Palatine Hill just opposite the Colosseum, he listened intently as meditations inspired by the 14 "stations of the cross" were read to the crowd of thousands holding candles. Pairs of immigrants, prisoners, homeless, elderly, women, disabled, former drug addicts and others alternated carrying a large cross between each of the stations which describe the main events in the last hours of Jesus' life. This year's meditations were written by Italian Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, who has been in the front line in the fight against organized crime in southern Italy and one of the country's most socially progressive Churchmen. One spoke of "all those wrongs which created the economic crisis and its grave social consequences: job insecurity, unemployment, dismissals, an economy that rules rather than serves, financial speculation, suicide among business owners, corruption and usury, the loss of local industry." Others spoke of the plight of battered women, abused children, home-bound and lonely elderly, prisoners who endure torture, victims of organized crime and loansharks. The participants at the event were urged to listen to "the cry of those persecuted, the dying, the terminally ill..." In brief words at the end of the service, Francis urged the crowd to "remember all the abandoned people" and spoke of the "monstrosity of man" when he lets himself be guided by evil. "All together, let us remember those who are sick, let us remember all the abandoned people, who are weighed down by the cross. May they find the power of hope in the trials of the cross, the hope of resurrection and love of God," he said. It was Francis's second Good Friday event. Hours earlier, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics attended a service in St. Peter's Basilica where the Vatican's official preacher said huge salaries and the world financial crisis were modern evils caused by the "cursed hunger for gold".