Sat, 13 April 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Pope Francis skips Good Friday procession for health reasons

Update : 30 Mar 2024, 11:12

Pope Francis skipped the traditional Good Friday "Way of the Cross" procession in Rome to protect his health, the Vatican said in a statement.

Francis had been expected to preside over the procession that marks the beginning of the Easter weekend — and Holy Week — one of the holiest events in the Christian calendar.

But just as the event was about to begin, the Vatican announced that Francis was following the event from his home at the Vatican.

"To conserve his health in view of the vigil tomorrow and Mass on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis will follow the Via Crucis at the Colosseum this evening from the Casa Santa Marta," a statement from the Vatican press office said.

Last-minute decision to cancel appearance

The decision to not attend the Good Friday procession appeared to be very last-minute — Francis' chair was in place on the platform where he was to preside over the rite.

His closest aide, Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, moved the television screen around on the platform so Francis would have a better view of what was going on inside the Colosseum itself.

But at 9:10 p.m. (2010 GMT), five minutes before the official start of the procession, the Vatican press office announced on Telegram that he wouldn't show up. The chair was quickly taken away. 

On Saturday, Francis is expected to preside over a lengthy evening Easter Vigil in St. Peter's, before leading the all-important Easter Sunday mass in which he is set to deliver a speech to discuss the global crises and threats facing humanity. 

Pope's health problems

The 87-year-old pontiff has been battling ill health for months, but it has appeared to deteriorate in recent weeks and he has had his aides read out several of his speeches. 

In addition to his respiratory problems, Francis had a chunk of his large intestine removed in 2021 and was hospitalized twice last year. 

Francis missed the procession last year — the first time since becoming pope. At the time, it had only been about a week since he had been released from hospital after undergoing treatment for bronchitis.

He also skipped delivering his homily during the Palm Sunday Mass service at the Vatican last week, although he was able to preside over the service. 

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