Pope slams Europe's 'indifference' to migrants
"O Cross of Christ, today we see you in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which have become insatiable cemeteries, reflections of our indifferent and anaesthetised conscience," the Argentinian Pontiff said, referring to the thousands who risk their lives in the perilous sea jounrey to Europe's shores.
In attendance at the service in Rome's Colosseum were tens of thousands of worshippers who had gathered to pray and see the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Pope's words echoed his previous calls for Europe to open its doors to refugees and to fight xenephobia, particularly since acts perpetrated by the Islamic State group have fuelled anti-migrant and refugee sentiment within the continent.
At the ceremony marking the second of four intensive days in the Christian calendar, a lengthy meditation was read by Italian Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, which reiterated references to the migrants who have drowned trying to reach Europe.
"Where is God in the extermination camps? Where is God in the mines and factories where children work as slaves? Where is God in makeshift boats that sink in the sea?", the Cardinal read.On Thursday, the Pope also visited a refugee centre outside Rome to wash and kiss the feet of Muslim, Hindu, Orthodox and Catholic migrants as part of the Easter Week observences.
The ritual, which is carried out on the Holy Thursday of Easter, reenacts the foot washing ritual that Jesus is said to have performed on his apostles before being crucified.
Shortly after becoming Pope in 2013, the Pope carried out a similar rite in which he washed the feet of a young female Muslim prisoner.
In his Good Friday address, Pope Francis also took the opportunity to decry the conflicts around the world, specifically condemning the "arms dealers who feed the cauldron of war with the innocent blood of our brothers and sisters."
The Church itself did not escape the heat of the Pontiff's rebuke, as he went on to condemn the "unfaithful ministers, who, instead of stripping themselves of their own vain ambitions, divest even the innocent of their dignity", in reference to the child abuse scandals that have dogged the church for some decades now.
In continuing with the observences of the Holy Week, the pontiff will attend an Easter vigil on Saturday evening at St Peter's Basilica, which will be followed by the celebrations of Easter Mass on Sunday.