VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) – Pope Francis condemned the cruelty of the war in Ukraine on Saturday (April 16) at an Easter vigil mass he attended however at which he didn’t preside, presumably as a result of of leg ache that has compelled him to curtail actions.
The mass was attended by Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, who was detained by Russian forces final month and later freed in a prisoner alternate.
Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re changed the pope as the primary celebrant at the service, which concerned a procession in near-total darkness up the central nave of Christendom’s largest church.
The pope sat at the entrance of Saint Peter’s Basilica in a big white chair on the facet, appeared alert and stood throughout the studying of the gospel.
He learn his homily whereas sitting however in his regular voice and later rose to baptise seven grownup converts to Catholicism.
The pope departed from his ready textual content to acknowledge the presence of Fedorov, his household and three Ukrainian parliamentarians sitting within the entrance.
He spoke of the “darkness of war, of cruelty”.
“All of us pray for you and with you. We pray because there is so much suffering. We can only give you our company, our prayers and say to you ‘courage, we accompany you,’” Francis stated.
He ended by saying “Christ is risen” in Ukrainian.
The Vatican stated Francis met privately with the Ukrainian delegation earlier than the Mass.
Presiding at the mass, which was attended by 5,500 folks, would have required lengthy intervals of standing throughout the chanting and gospel readings, genuflecting at the altar.
The 85-year-old pope suffers from sciatica, which causes ache in a single leg and ends in a pronounced limp. Recently Francis additionally has had a flare up of ache in his proper knee.
The situation seems to come back and go.
A programme issued by the Vatican on Friday listed the pope as chief celebrant at the Saturday night service. The Vatican gave no official motive for the change.
On Friday afternoon, the pope was nicely sufficient to stroll the whole aisle each at the beginning and the top of a Good Friday service within the basilica however he didn’t prostrate himself on the ground as he usually does throughout that service.
He needed to curtail some of his actions throughout a visit to Malta at the beginning of April and likewise needed to ask a cardinal to face in for him at a Mass in December.
The Holy Week actions, which culminate on Sunday, mark the primary time since 2019 that the general public has been allowed to attend following two years of Covid-19 restrictions.
On Easter Sunday, crucial day within the Christian liturgical calendar, he is because of say mass in St Peter’s Square after which ship his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to town and the world) message and blessing.