The Vatican adapted Pope Francis’ Way of the Cross on Good Friday after an outcry in Ukraine over a Station involving Ukrainian and Russian families.
The meditation for the 13th Station, “Jesus dies on the Cross,” was written by members of a Ukrainian and a Russian family. In the event, the meditation was not read out during the Via Crucis at Rome’s Colosseum on April 15.
In its place, a reader said: “In the face of death, silence is more eloquent than words. Let us therefore pause in prayerful silence and each one in his heart pray for peace in the world.”
During the silence, the cross was held tightly by two friends, Irina, from Ukraine, and Albina, from Russia. The women, who work together at the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital in Rome, looked at each other as they held the cross with tears in their eyes.
The original plan for the Via Crucis was strongly criticized by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who described it as “untimely.”
“For the Greek Catholics of Ukraine, the texts and gestures of the 13th station of this Way of the Cross are incoherent and even offensive, especially in the context of the expected second, even bloodier attack of Russian troops on our cities and villages,” he said.