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 CNS Story:

FRANCIS-COLOSSEUM Mar-31-2013 (320 words) With photos. xxxi

At Rome's Colosseum, pope says cross is God's response to evil

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Gazing from a hillside overlooking Rome's Colosseum, where thousands of people gathered to pray the Way of the Cross, Pope Francis said Christ's cross is God's response to evil in the world.

"Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken," the pope said March 29 at the end of the nighttime prayer service.

God's response to the evil in the world "is the cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness," the pope said.

The meditations on the 14 Stations of the Cross were written by young people in Lebanon, and they cried out for respect for human life, an end to violence and war and a possibility of hope for a dignified life for the people of the Middle East.

Pope Francis said that the cross "also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us."

"If I embrace his love then I am saved; if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves," said the pope, who had watched and prayed during the meditations as a cross was carried through and around the Colosseum by a different person for each station. They included nuns from Lebanon, young people from Brazil, a Franciscan from Syria and two seminarians from China.

Pope Francis said the followers of Christ must respond to evil in the world like Jesus did, "taking the cross upon themselves as Jesus did."

"We now continue this Via Crucis in our daily lives," he said before leaving. "Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross, and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness."

After the service, which ended about 10:30 p.m., Pope Francis personally greeted each of the people who had read the meditations or carried the cross.


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