- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2006

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI yesterday led a Good Friday procession and heard lamentations on a “diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family,” an apparent reference to same-sex “marriage” and abortion.

The 78-year-old pope led the traditional Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, procession around the ruins of Rome’s ancient Colosseum commemorating Christ’s passion and death.

The 14 meditations, written by Italian Archbishop Angelo Comastri and read aloud to the crowd by actors, painted a picture of a bleak world threatened on all sides.

One of the meditations appeared to be a reference to homosexual “marriages” and moves to give legal status to unmarried couples.

“Surely, God is deeply pained by the attack on the family,” one of the meditations said. “Today, we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counterplan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family.”

The pope, wearing a red cape over his white cassock, carried a wooden cross for part of the service around the Colosseum as tens of thousands of people held candles on the streets below.

Another meditation read by one of the actors appeared to be a criticism of genetic manipulation and cloning, lamenting a “move to reinvent mankind, to modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God … a risky and dangerous venture.”

Yet another meditation said the world had lost its sense of sin.

“Today, a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication,” it said.

At the end of the procession, the pope delivered brief, unprepared remarks.

“In the mirror of the cross, we saw all of the sufferings of humanity today,” he said.

“We saw the suffering of children who are abandoned and abused, the threats against the family, the divisions of the world, the arrogance of the rich who do not share … with those who suffer hunger and thirst,” he said.

The evening procession was the second event for the pope on Good Friday, the most solemn day in the Christian calendar, when the faithful commemorate Christ’s Crucifixion and death.

At another Good Friday service earlier in the day, the pope heard a Vatican preacher rail against “The Da Vinci Code,” branding the book and its upcoming film version as just more examples of Christ being sold out by a wave of what he called “pseudo-historic” art.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, whose official title is “Preacher of the Papal Household,” also condemned the so-called Gospel of Judas, an alternative view to traditional Christian teaching that has received wide press attention recently.

The pope, who marks the first anniversary of his election next week, is leading the 1.1-billion-member Roman Catholic Church toward the first Easter of his pontificate.

He is to celebrate his 79th birthday on Easter Sunday.

Benedict’s predecessor Pope John Paul II was in his dying days for all of last year’s Easter season and was only able to make brief appearances in the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.

John Paul died on April 2, a week after Easter.

Tonight, Benedict is to say an Easter Eve mass, and on Easter Sunday he will deliver an “Urbi et Orbi”, blessing, a message “to the city and the world.”

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