Easter: Pope prays, begs God to end church scandals, global killings

The humanity, according to the Pope, is worth for hope and better future.

Egyptian Copts observed a solemn Good Friday with prayers and fasting, as the community reeled from the bombings. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: "Its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone", urged Pope Francis.

Such shame, he said, derives from "all those images of devastation, destruction, shipwrecks, that have become routine in our lives".

Pope Francis, presiding at a Good Friday service, asked God for forgiveness for scandals in the Catholic Church and for the "shame" of humanity becoming inured to daily scenes of bombed cities and drowning migrants.

Francis also spoke of the shame he said should be felt over "the daily spilling of the innocent blood of women, of children, of immigrants" and for the fate of those who are persecuted due to their race, social status or religious beliefs. He specifically mentioned the sexual abuse allegations against several Catholic Church clergymen and said that the shame was also "for all those times that we bishops, priests and other clergy scandalised" the church. More than 650 have died or are unaccounted for while trying to cross the sea in rubber dinghies this year.

Hours before the evocative, candlelit ceremony, pilgrims underwent the first of two rounds of security checks that started while they still were blocks away from the ancient arena. Streets surrounding the Colosseum were reportedly closed to traffic, with armoured vehicles, bomb-sniffing dog squads and hundreds of security personnel guarding the area.

The holy week commemorating the last days of Jesus's life had a bloody beginning last Sunday with attacks claimed by the Islamic State group on two Coptic churches in Egypt that left 46 people dead. Some parents hoisted children on their shoulders so they could watch, while Francis listened to meditations read aloud about how Jesus suffered before he was crucified. Amid tight security at the ancient amphitheatre, some 20,000 people watched a candle-lit re-enactment of Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion.

Hours earlier at the Vatican, Francis prostrated himself in prayer during a Good Friday service in St. Peter's Basilica.

The 80-year-old pope lay for several minutes before the central altar at the basilica.

  • Leroy Wright