Pope Francis presided over Good Friday prayers at Rome’s Colosseum, where he warned against corruption and spoke out against “complicit silence” in the killing of Christians around the globe.
Tens of thousands of people joined the pope for the traditional torch-lit Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession, which recalls Jesus’ crucifixion. Cross bearers from Nigeria, China, Egypt, Iraq and Syria participated in the procession, carrying a wooden cross through 14 stations representing the stages of Jesus’ suffering and death, as religious authorities led prayers.
During his reflections, the pope recalled the Christians in the world who were targeted for their faith. “We see, even today, our brothers persecuted, beheaded and crucified for their faith in you, in front of our eyes or often with our complicit silence,” he added during the ceremony, according to the Associated Press.
His remarks came a day after members of the Al-Shabab militant group attacked a Kenyan university, targeting Christians and killing at least 148 people. Earlier Friday, the pope condemned that attack as an act of “senseless brutality.”
Pope Francis participated in another Good Friday service earlier in the day at St. Peter’s Basilica, where Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Vatican’s official preacher, also spoke on the Al-Shabab attack as well as the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya in February by members of the Islamic State group.
“Christians are, of course, not only the victims of homicidal violence in the world, but we cannot ignore that in many countries they are the most frequently targeted victims,” he said, according to Reuters. He also referenced the “disturbing indifference of world institutions and public opinion” over the killings.
The pope will reappear Saturday night at St. Peter’s Basilica for an Easter Mass, and will deliver a blessing and message in St. Peter’s Square Easter Sunday.