Pope's Via Crucis meditations will look at crosses humanity bears today

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — By reflecting on the Passion of
Christ, the author of the Way of the Cross meditations for Pope Francis’ Good
Friday service said he will focus on the suffering unfolding in the world today
and how “the martyrs of the 21st century are undoubtedly the apostles of

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve
told Vatican Radio that his reflections on the traditional 14 stations will
blend in “references to the present day, which unfortunately is not
lacking in crosses” people are forced to bear.

“Therefore, I sought to interpret the sorrow through
the lens of God’s great love for humanity because otherwise sorrow doesn’t make
sense,” he said Feb. 26.

“What strikes us the most is that Jesus took on the
cross because he wanted to — he could have avoided it,” but he wanted to
take on the sorrows of humanity, the cardinal said.

He said the theme of the family will be highlighted,
especially for the fourth station when Jesus meets his mother. “Alongside
the tragedy of Mary,” he said, will be reflected “the tragedy in our
families, the situation of our families and young people,” the problem of
employment and a lack of meaning in life.

He said he will also look at the economic insecurity many
people face, the plight of those forced to flee their homes because of war and
poverty, and the persecution of today’s Christians.

The sorrows afflicting both humanity and the church will
receive attention, he said, and how both “need purification and

Everything will be looked at in view of Easter and
Christ’s resurrection — “the great message of hope that we continue to

Pope Francis asked the 73-year-old cardinal to write the
meditations for his Good Friday service March 25 at Rome’s Colosseum.

The pope had met the cardinal in 2013 a month after his
election when the bishops of Umbria made their “ad limina” visits to
Rome to report on the status of their dioceses. The two also spent a lot of
time together later that year in Assisi, the Umbrian hometown of St. Francis.

Pope Francis gave him the red hat in 2014, making him the
first cardinal from Perugia in 160 years; the last Archbishop of Perugia to
wear a red hat was Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci, who became Pope Leo XIII in 1878.

Cardinal Bassetti serves as president for the Umbria
region in the Italian bishops’ conference.

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