Pope skips Good Friday occasion to protect well being forward of Easter, Vatican says

Pope skips Good Friday occasion to protect well being forward of Easter, Vatican says



ROME (AP) — Pope Francis skipped the normal Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum to guard his well being, the Vatican mentioned, making a last-minute determination that added to considerations about his frail condition throughout a very busy interval.

Francis had been anticipated to preside over the Approach of the Cross procession, which re-enacts Christ’s Ardour and crucifixion, and composed the meditations which might be learn aloud at every station. However simply because the occasion was about to start, the Vatican introduced that Francis was following the occasion from his dwelling on the Vatican.

“To preserve his well being in view of the vigil tomorrow and Mass on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis will observe the Through Crucis on the Colosseum this night from the Casa Santa Marta,” an announcement from the Vatican press workplace mentioned.

Whereas Francis had additionally skipped the occasion in 2023 as a result of he was recovering from bronchitis and it was a very chilly night time, his determination to remain dwelling this yr steered his plans had modified immediately.

The 87-year-old Francis, who had a part of one lung eliminated as a younger man, has been battling what he and the Vatican have described as a case of the flu, bronchitis or a chilly all winter lengthy. For the final a number of weeks he has sometimes asked an aide to read aloud his speeches, and heskipped his Palm Sunday homily altogether.

The choice to remain dwelling gave the impression to be very last-minute: Francis’ chair was in place on the platform exterior the Colosseum the place he was to preside over the ceremony. His shut aide, Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, was available and moved the tv display round on the platform so Francis would have a greater view of what was occurring contained in the Colosseum itself.

However at 9:10 p.m., 5 minutes earlier than the official begin of the procession, the Vatican press workplace introduced on Telegram that he wouldn’t attend. The chair was rapidly taken away.

His absence was famous with concern however understanding amongst a few of the estimated 25,000 pilgrims who packed the world for the torchlit procession.

“I consider course it causes concern for the individuals who be sure that he’s doing properly, however he will need to have his causes for the selections that he makes,” mentioned Marlene Steuber, who was visiting from Costa Rica. “Nonetheless I believe that individuals are concerned and really blessed and completely happy to be right here and expertise these occasions right here in Rome.”

Brian Hopp, a customer from Chicago, famous that Francis has had his well being challenges this yr.

“I undoubtedly don’t suppose it was a call taken evenly. I believe lots was taken into it and I believe he most likely prioritized his well being for Easter, which I believe is a really accountable factor to do,” Hopp mentioned. “I do know he has been going via lots this yr so I don’t count on him to have the ability to make each occasion.”

The hasty announcement recalled Francis’ last-minute decision on Palm Sunday, when the Vatican issued the pope’s homily upfront to journalists, and his aide received as much as give him his glasses to learn it. However Francis made clear he wouldn’t learn it, and the aide put the glasses again in his pocket. The Vatican later mentioned the homily was changed by a second of silent prayer.

Francis had appeared in good type earlier within the day for a Good Friday liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica, although he remained largely seated and it was not a very taxing occasion that required him to talk at size.

On Thursday, he left the Vatican to preside over the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual at a Rome ladies’s jail. Whereas he carried out the ceremony from his wheelchair, Francis appeared sturdy and engaged with the inmates, even giving an enormous chocolate Easter egg to at least one lady’s younger son.

On Saturday, he’s scheduled to preside over a prolonged night Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s, some of the solemn occasions within the liturgical calendar. He additionally is because of preside over Easter Sunday Mass within the piazza and ship his “Urbi et Orbi” (to town and the world) speech rounding up world crises and threats to humanity.

Along with his respiratory issues, Francis had a bit of his giant gut eliminated in 2021 and was hospitalized twice final yr, together with as soon as to remove intestinal scar tissue from earlier surgical procedures to handle diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall. He has been utilizing a wheelchair and cane for over a yr due to dangerous knee ligaments.

In his lately revealed memoirs, “Life: My Story By Historical past,” Francis mentioned he isn’t suffering from any health problems that may require him to resign and that he nonetheless has “ many projects to bring to fruition.”


This story has been corrected to point out that this was the second time Francis skipped the occasion, after staying dwelling additionally in 2023.

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