Pope Francis celebrates first Holy Week
Meghan Thomassen | Monday, April 1, 2013
ROME – Pope Francis, the first South American pope in Catholic Church history, celebrated his first Holy Week last week by challenging the faithful to serve one another and calling for global peace.
On Holy Thursday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, washed the feet of 12 young detainees in the Casal del Marmo, one of Rome’s juvenile prisons, according to the BBC.
“Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us,” the pope said Thursday, according to the BBC. “I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love.”
“I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me.”
Pope Francis led a Good Friday service in Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum.
He read aloud meditations composed by young Lebanese members of the Church, calling for peace in a region “torn apart by injustice and conflicts,” according to the BBC.
Pope Francis has brought a new sense of simplicity to the Vatican, according to BBC’s David Willey in Rome. He wears plain vestments and has not taken up residence in the lavish papal apartments.
Saturday night was the Easter Vigil held in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Capuchin friar Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa delivered the homily, referencing Franz Kafka’s “An Imperial Message” to illustrate the difficulty of spreading the Word of Christ to the worldly, according to the BBC.
“We must do everything to prevent the Church from becoming Kafka’s castle, where it is impossible for the messenger to get word out to the world,” Cantalamessa said. “So, we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins.”
Pope Francis delivered his “Urbi et Orbi” message to the city of Rome and to the world after the Mass. He emphasized the importance of love and peace for communities that are needy and war-torn.
“What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons,” the pope said, according to the English translation offered by the Holy See Press Office.
The pontiff said Jesus Christ’s triumph over death should transform Christians’ lives.
“What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself,” he said. “It means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom.”
Pope Francis invited everyone to “accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection” and “become agents of this mercy.” He prayed specifically that the conflicts in the Middle East, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, the Congo, Central Africa and Korea would be resolved.
“Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century,” he said. “Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources!”
To conclude his address, Pope Francis quoted a passage from Psalm 117:1-2.
“Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over … the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever,” he said. “Let Israel say: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever.'”