Pope Francis leads Easter Vigil amid questions on his well being | EUROtoday

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Pope Francis took half within the Easter Vigil service on the Vatican on Saturday, a day after the last-minute cancellation of his presence at a significant Good Friday procession revived questions on his well being.

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The 87-year-old pontiff arrived to preside over the Easter Vigil at Saint Peter’s Basilica in entrance of hundreds of pilgrims from around the globe shortly earlier than 7:30 pm (1830 GMT).

A day after cancelling his look on the Stations of the Cross (“Via Crucis”) ceremony, Pope Francis, clad in white, arrived in a wheelchair shortly earlier than the two-hour service.

The Vatican had confirmed earlier within the day that he would attend.

After the ceremony of sunshine in a basilica plunged into darkness to symbolise the passage from loss of life to lifetime of Christ, Francis was to ship the homily after which baptise eight adults.

Sunday’s Easter Mass and the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing that follows will probably be broadcast reside around the globe.

In a quick assertion Friday, the Vatican had stated that “to preserve his health ahead of tomorrow’s vigil and the Easter Sunday mass, Pope Francis will this evening follow the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum from the Santa Marta Residence”, the place he lives.

The last-minute resolution — the pope’s chair was already in place for the procession — and the dearth of element within the assertion added to doubts about his well being and questions as to how lengthy he can proceed to guide the Catholic Church and its 1.3 billion followers.

Growing doubts

“The Via Crucis of a fragile pope” was the Saturday headline in Italian day by day La Stampa, whereas Il Messaggero spoke of a “renunciation of Francis”.

A Vatican supply instructed AFP on Friday that there was “no particular concern” about his well being, and that the choice to tug out had been “simply a measure of caution”.

The Argentinian Jesuit had additionally cancelled his participation within the “Via Crucis” in 2023, however that adopted a three-day hospital keep for bronchitis, and was introduced nicely forward of time. Weeks later, he underwent a hernia operation.

Holy Week is a pillar of the Catholic calendar, involving a collection of ceremonies main as much as Easter Sunday itself.

Up till Friday, the pope had attended his varied Holy Week engagements, however he has just lately appeared drained and has typically delegated talking roles to colleagues.

Francis, who by no means takes holidays, made his final journey in September, to the southern French metropolis of Marseille. In December, he cancelled a much-anticipated attendance on the COP28 local weather summit in Dubai.

Francis has beforehand left the door open to stepping down if he can now not do the job. That would comply with the instance of his instant predecessor, Benedict XVI, who in 2013 turned the primary pope for the reason that Middle Ages to voluntarily step apart.

But in a memoir revealed this month, Francis wrote that he did “not have any cause serious enough to make me think of resigning”.

Resignation is a “distant possibility” that might be justified solely within the occasion of “a serious physical impediment”, he wrote.