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Pope leads Celebration of the Passion

Pope Francis prays as he arrives to preside the Passion of the Lord mass on Good Friday as part of the Holy Week celebrations, at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on March 29, 2024


I.Media - published on 03/29/24

Jesus' crucifixion "a total reversal of the human idea of God," says Cardinal Cantalamessa in homily.

On Friday, March 29, 2024, Pope Francis presided over Celebration of the Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. During this sober, silent liturgical celebration, the Pontiff did not deliver the homily, as it is customary each year for the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, to do so.

Pope Francis presides the Passion of the Lord mass on Good Friday as part of the Holy Week celebrations, at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on March 29, 2024

The celebration opened in absolute silence, as the faithful, 70 cardinals and bishops, and 200 priests, knelt behind the Pope praying in his wheelchair, alone before the high altar. Since 2022, the Pontiff, suffering from knee pain, no longer performs the rite of “prostration” during which the celebrant stretches out before the altar in adoration.

In keeping with tradition, the congregation listened to the reading of the story of Jesus’ Passion from the Gospel of St. John, sung in Latin. The Argentine Pontiff, clergy, and faithful then joined in the prayers stipulated in the liturgy, interceding for Christian unity, for Jews, for non-believers, for rulers, for the victims of war. The congregation then venerated a large wooden crucifix brought in procession, which the Pope held in his hands, standing for a few moments.

Pope Francis to visit the Colosseum

In his homily, Cardinal Cantalamessa saw in Jesus’ crucifixion a lesson for “the powerful of the earth” and “a total reversal of the human idea of God.”

Indeed, “the true omnipotence of God is the powerlessness of Calvary,” he explained.

And in the resurrection, Cardinal Cantalamessa continued, Jesus’ triumph is not “external and visible,” nor is it “a revenge that humiliates his adversaries,” for “any revenge would be incompatible with the love that Christ wished to show to mankind through his passion.”

The celebration ended, as it had begun, in silence. In the evening, at 9.15pm, Pope Francis is due to go to the Colosseum, in the historic heart of Rome, to take part in the Stations of the Cross. This year, he wrote the meditations for the celebration.

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