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Pope pulls out of Easter event over health concerns

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Pope Francis has condemned the use of the Crucifix as a fashion item

Pope Francis abruptly pulled out of Friday’s Way of the Cross ceremony, citing a desire to “preserve his health” ahead of major Easter celebrations this weekend, according to the Vatican.

The 87-year-old’s armchair had been placed on the hill overlooking the Colosseum in Rome, but it was removed since the announcement came just seconds before the Good Friday ritual.

“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 Vatican said in a statement.

The pope did not attend last year’s open-air ceremony, which occurred shortly after he was released from a three-night hospital stay with bronchitis.

Pope got what the Vatican described as a “light flu” last month, forcing him to cancel some events, and he has subsequently asked others to deliver his addresses.

Thousands of people attended the service on Friday evening, and many of them had candles in their hands. It was one of the highlights of the Holy Week leading up to Easter.

For the first time since becoming Pope, Francis drafted the lines that will be read at each of the 14 Stations of the Cross, which represent Christ’s journey from death sentence to execution.

On Sunday, the Argentine will preside over the Easter liturgy in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican before delivering the “Urbi et Orbi” message.

Pope Francis, who had part of his lung removed as a child, was forced to abandon his travel to the COP28 UN climate negotiations in Dubai in December due to flu-like symptoms.

The pontiff, who took over as head of the Catholic Church in 2013, has had a variety of health difficulties in recent years, including knee and hip pain, an irritated colon, and hernia surgery in June.

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