On the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Pope Francis celebrated the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and called Christianity without the Cross worldly and sterile. Source: Catholic News Agency.
The Pope presided over a live-streamed Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite in Prešov, eastern Slovakia, yesterday and delivered a homily in which he posed the question: Why did Jesus die on the Cross?
“Why did he do this? He could have saved his life, he could have kept his distance from the misery and brutality of human history,” Pope Francis said.
“Instead, he chose to enter into that history, to immerse himself in it. That is why he chose the most difficult way possible: the Cross. So that no one on earth should ever be so desperate as not to be able to find him, even there, in the midst of anguish, darkness, abandonment, the scandal of his or her own misery and mistakes.”
Pope Francis said that Jesus even experienced abandonment so that no one would ever be alone in their trials.
The Pope arrived at the Divine Liturgy in the popemobile, which passed through crowds of people standing along the streets waving Vatican flags. About 40,000 people attended the liturgy, according to local authorities.
Prešov was part of the Kingdom of Hungary until the mid-20th century and is home to many of the country’s more than 200,000 Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics.
The Ruthenian Catholic Church is one of 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Holy See. In April, Byzantine Catholics in Slovakia and around the world celebrated the 375th anniversary of the Union of Uzhhorod, an agreement that brought the Ruthenian Orthodox Church into communion with the pope after nearly six centuries of schism.
Christianity without the Cross is ‘sterile,’ says Pope Francis at Byzantine Divine Liturgy (By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency)
Christianity without the cross is ‘sterile,’ pope says in Slovakia (Catholic News Service)
Pope in Slovakia: A day of faith and joy in the East (Vatican News)