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Follow Jesus' Way of the Cross through works of mercy, pope says


  • The cross is positioned by pilgrims during the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis presides at the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • A couple attends the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis walks forward to deliver a reflection during the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pilgrims cheer after the Way of the Cross during World Youth Day in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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KRAKOW, Poland (CNS) -- By embracing the hunger, thirst and loneliness of others, young people can touch Jesus' cross and experience the light of the resurrection, Pope Francis said.

It was Jesus who chose to identify with people who suffer pain and anguish, especially those fleeing violence and persecution, by "agreeing to tread the way of sorrows that led to Calvary," the pope told young men and women July 29 participating in the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Krakow.

The reflection on Jesus' passion and death capped an emotional day that included a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp and a stop at children's hospital in Krakow before his arrival at Blonia Park. Police stood shoulder-to-shoulder at some crossing points into the park and would not let people pass, sending them to other entry points on the grounds. Thousands of people still were streaming to the service from the crowded streets 30 minutes into the service.

Dancers, acrobats, painters and other artists performed interpretations of each key moment leading up to Christ's crucifixion, death and burial.

Each significant event of Jesus' crucifixion was linked to a corporal or spiritual work of mercy. A group of mimes dressed and painted completely in white acted out Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry his cross, while wall climbers seemed to stumble as they climbed and formed a cross on the wall, representing Jesus falling for the first time.

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