Vatican Way of the Cross 2015
“We gaze at you, Jesus, as you are nailed to the cross And our conscience is troubled.”
A series of reflections to be used by Pope Francis in Rome on Good Friday make connections between the crucifixion of Jesus and the modern-day use of the death penalty.
The reflections, to be used by the pope at an annual public service in and near Rome’s historic Colosseum, pointedly ask: “When will the death penalty, still practiced in many states, be abolished?”
Throughout the service, the bishop who drafted the reflections at the Pope’s request presents some possible feelings and thoughts of Jesus during his suffering and then offers a “resonance” reflection for those present at the ceremony.
In another part of the service, Corti also connects Jesus’ suffering with persecution of Christians around the world. At the station that marks when Jesus was forced to carry the cross of his own crucifixion, the bishop says such persecution “has happened repeatedly throughout history.”
“In our day too, men and women are imprisoned, condemned and even slaughtered for the simple reason that they are believers or engaged in promoting justice and peace,” states the reflection. “They are not ashamed of your cross. For us they are wonderful examples to imitate.”
It continues. “When will every form of torture and the violent killing of innocent persons come to an end? Your Gospel is the surest defense of the human person, of every human being.”
While Catholic teaching holds that the death penalty can be used in a situation where the public authority can find no other way to contain a dangerous person, the last several popes have said that such situations likely no longer exist.
Francis has been even more publically opposed to the practice, saying March 20 that “today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.”
Pope Francis celebrated Good Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in commemoration of the Lord’s Passion. The Mass is over, but you can watch a video replay of the event.