Amidst thousands of faithful, the Pontiff led a solemn procession into the Basilica, along with several Cardinals, bishops, priests, who entered in silence and prostrated themselves before the main altar for a time of prayer.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, the preacher of the Papal household offered a short reflection at the conclusion of the Liturgy of the Word. Fr. Cantalamessa brought up the currently popular issue of “global warming” and warned about the equally troubling threat of “spiritual glaciation.”
“Our civilization, which is dominated by technology,” the Papal preacher said, “is in need of a heart which is able to survive in it, without completely being dehumanized. We must give more space to the ‘reasons of the heart, if we wish to avoid that, while in the midst of physical warming, our planet falls spiritually into an ice age.”
The Holy Women
During his homily the Preacher of the Papal Household also emphasized the role of the holy women discussed in the Passion story, referencing the “new feminism” discussed often by Pope John Paul II.
This Good Friday also provides an opportunity to recall for today’s world, “the role of the women, who on Golgotha were the last to leave the dying Christ and that to whom the Lord was first revealed,” Fr. Cantalamessa said.
He pointed out that the holy women should not be seen “with a certain masculine condescension only as some ‘pious women,’” for they, “were truly ‘mothers of courage’ because they braved that danger which was presenting themselves publicly on behalf of one condemned to death.”
“In the past it was argued who desired the death of Jesus: whether the Jewish leaders, or Pilate, or both,” the priest said. “One thing is certain in every case: they were men, not women. No woman is involved, not even indirectly, in his condemnation even the on pagan woman mentioned in the stories, the wife of Pilate.”
This afternoon, Pope Benedict XVI led the Church’s traditional Good Friday service at St. Peter’s Basilica. The service involved the reading of the Lord’s Passion and the veneration of the cross, along with the distribution of Holy Eucharist.