By John Phillips
The Washington Times
March 22, 2008
The Vatican yesterday was accused of currying favor with China by “censoring” the Easter reflections for last night’s solemn Good Friday service at the Colosseum that Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong wrote at the request of Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI holds a wooden cross before the faithful during the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession celebrated by the pontiff, at the ancient Colosseum in Rome, on Friday, March 21, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI recalled the martyrdom of early Christians thrown to hungry lions in the Colosseum as he presided over the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession at the ancient arena in a tradition which this year was dedicated to religious freedom.(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
But many commentators insist the choice of the outspoken Shanghai-born bishop for the task reflects the full support he is getting from the pontiff.
The pope asked Cardinal Zen, 76, to write the reflections, or special prayers, for the Way of the Cross ceremony yesterday, which was beamed on live satellite television to millions of Christians around the world.
Benedict presided over the ceremony but did not carry the cross as planned, the Associated Press reported.
He stood sheltered from pelting rain under a canopy.
At the end of the procession, Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini handed Benedict the lightweight cross. The pope gripped it briefly and then blessed the crowd.
Plans were for the pope to carry the cross for the final minutes of the procession.
But Vatican officials said that because of the storm, it was decided that Benedict, who turns 81 next month, should stay dry under the canopy.