The Pope has chosen two Lebanese youth to write the meditations for the Stations of the Cross he will preside over - as he does every year - on the evening of Good Friday in Rome’s Coliseum, the Vatican Press Office announced today.
Cardinal Béchara Rai was
entrusted with the task – a note explains – but the texts will be
prepared under the guidance of the Maronite patriarch, by two Lebanese
young people and will follow the traditional 14 Stations.
The note also
specifies what pushed the Pope to make this choice: “Inviting the whole
Church to remember the Middle East, its problems and Christian
communities in the land, in their prayers.”
It is the first time since the rite was
reintroduced by Paul VI in 1964 that young people have been asked to
write the texts for the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum. The fact
that the Pope made this choice ahead of this year’s World Youth Day
celebrations in Rio de Janeiro is significant. There appears to be in
continuity with last year, when the Pope chose a married couple, Anna
Maria and Danilo Zanzucchi for the task, ahead of the World Meeting of
Families in Milan. Obviously, the most striking thing about Benedict
XVI’s choice is that the young people are Lebanese.
The Pope visited
Lebanon last September to promulgate the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in the Middle East.
The Pope’s meeting with young people on the field in front of the
Maronite Patriarchate of Bkerké was one of the key moments of the trip.
Among the groups of young people present, there were some Christians who
had come from Syria.
Benedict XVI’s message to them was: “Tell your
families and friends back home that the Pope has not forgotten you. Tell
those around you that the Pope is saddened by your sufferings and your
griefs. He does not forget Syria in his prayers and concerns, he does
not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. It is time for
Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence
It is easy to imagine that today’s ordeal will be
reflected in the texts that the two young people from Lebanon (whose
identity is yet to be revealed) are preparing together with Cardinal
Béchara Rai. Lebanon experiences the repercussions of the struggle in
Damascus first hand both because of Lebanon’s fragile political balance
and because of the hundreds and thousands of Syrian refugees making
their way to its borders to flee the war.
But the Pope’s choice is not just intended as a
reminder to the world about the tragedy of war and fundamentalism. The
choice of the young Lebanese people to come up with the texts for the
Stations of the Cross in the Year of Faith also appears to be a way to
see whether the Christian message can reach the hearts of a generation
that even in Beirut today feels the pull of secularisation.
Hence, in the speech he delivered in Bkerké, the
Pope invited the young people of Lebanon not to seek escape through
drugs and pornography in the face of all the current upheavals. He also
asked the social network generation to develop “initiatives that give
meaning and a basis to your existence, contrasting superficiality and