Under the sign of the cross

Under the sign of the cross

The youth at the Stations of the Cross © Leszek Szymanski

Under the sign of the cross

Stations of the Cross with Francis © Leszek Szymanski

The 31. World Youth Day in Krakow reached a climax on Friday, with hundreds of thousands of young people gathering in the Blonia Meadow in the evening to join Pope Francis in commemorating the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

The Stations of the Cross also focused on the refugee crisis. Refusal to accept refugees is often tantamount to a death sentence for those involved, said meditation on death sentence for Jesus. "They knock at the doors of our countries, churches and homes. We are afraid of their religion and of their misery, they are strangers," the text recited by a young person continued. Instead of hospitality, refugees found death off the coasts of Lampedusa and Greece and in reception camps. In recent years, he said, so 30.000 refugees lost their lives.

Among the participants of the Stations of the Cross were also Syrian refugees, whom the Pope especially welcomed. "Tonight Jesus – and we with him – embrace with special love our Syrian brothers and sisters who have fled the war," Francis said. "We greet them and welcome them with brotherly love and with sympathy."

The evil in the world

In his speech, the Pope, who had visited the Auschwitz death camp earlier in the day, spoke about the evil in the world. "Where is God when there is evil in the world, when there are the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the displaced, the refugees?? Where is God when innocent people die because of violence, terrorism and wars?"

There is no human answer to this question, Francis continued. "We can only look to Jesus and ask him. And Jesus’ answer is: ‘God is in them’; Jesus is in them, suffers in them."The only possible response for a Christian, therefore, is the gift of self, the pope stressed. Today, the world needs young people who are willing to dedicate their lives to the "service of the poorest and weakest fellow human beings, free of charge". They have to become "champions in service. For Christians, their credibility is at stake when it comes to welcoming the marginalized or sinners.

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