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Following his election as Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron was grilled by the media about his beliefs as an evangelical Christian. Has the focus on faith, which began with Tony Blair, reached the point where it is harder than ever to hold religious beliefs and play an active role in political life?
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Pope Francis’ Good Friday meditations will reflect on women and children who have been abused, desperate migrants and those who have lost their jobs because of the economic crisis.
The texts of the meditations for the Way of the Cross, which Francis will lead at Rome’s ancient Colosseum on Friday, have been written by Mgr Giancarlo Bregantini, Archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano in southern Italy, who has fiercely opposed the mafia in his writings. They were published today by the Vatican publishing house Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
In his meditations for the 14 stations, Archbishop Bregantini reflects on the social consequences of the economic crisis such as “job insecurity, unemployment, dismissals, an economy that rules rather than serves, financial speculation, suicide among business owners, corruption and usury, the loss of local industry … This is the cross which weighs upon the world of labour, the injustice shouldered by workers.”
Reflecting on hope, he notes: “Let us leave behind our unhealthy nostalgia for the past, our complacency and our refusal to change.”
In a reference to harm done to “little ones” that is wrongly concealed, he wrote: “In Jesus, innocent, stripped and tortured, we see the outraged dignity of all the innocent, especially the little ones. God did not prevent his naked body from being exposed on the Cross. He did this in order to redeem every abuse wrongly concealed, and to show that he, God, is irrevocably and unreservedly on the side of victims.”
Archbishop Bregantini also mentions “those who knock and ask us for asylum, dignity and a homeland”, those “who die of loneliness”, women who are physically abused by men, abused children, and mothers who have lost their children to war, or to drugs or alcohol abuse.
Christ’s own suffering, he writes, resembles that of prisoners in overcrowded prisons bogged down by a slow justice system and the stigmatisation of being known thereafter as an “ex-convict”.
Just as Jesus fell three times on the way to Golgotha, only through helping each other can we hope to bear the weight of the cross, the archbishop writes.