Armoured vehicles and bomb-sniffing puppies used as heavy police existence guards every aspect of Good Friday Way of the Cross procession in Rome

Thousands of people, including nuns, households with toddlers and young sightseers, tolerated extraordinarily tight anti-terrorism checks to pray at the Good Friday procession at the Colosseum, where Pope Francis expressed reproach over humanitys failings.

Francis, wearing a plain white coat, is president of the traditional evening Way of the Cross procession from a rise overlooking the popular tourist monument as the faithful took becomes carrying a cross and meditations were recited to encourage reflection on Jesus suffering and crucifixion.

After the 90 -minute-long procession ended, Francis, in a quiet voice, read a prayer he composed that alternated expressing reproach for humanitys failings and said he hoped that hardened hearts will become capable of absolve and loving.

With Easter two days away, Francis said the faithful look to Christ with eyes lowered in reproach and with hearts full of hope.

Such shame, he said, derives from all those images of devastation, extermination, shipwrecks, that had now become routine in our lives. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have tolerated hardships at the hands of human traffickers to try to reach Europe, which has increasingly been rejecting them, and thousands have died at sea during the last few years.

Evoking conflicts and conflicts, as well as attempts on Christian minorities, Francis also voiced reproach for the innocent blood spilled daily by girls, children, immigrants and persons persecuted because of the colour of their scalp, or for the ethnic or social group they belong to, and for their faith in Jesus.

The pontiff also made a reference to the clergys handling of sexual abuse of minors, mentioning: reproach for all those times that we bishops, clergymen and other clergy scandalised the church.

Hours before the evocative, candlelit rite, pilgrims underwent the first of two rounds of security checks that started while they still were blocks away from the ancient realm. There was a heavier-than-usual police existence maintaining watch on every aspect of the event. Anti-terrorism measures have been heightened for large-scale public crowd after several vehicle attempts in Nice, Berlin and other European cities.

Police opened handbags and backpacks. They checked computers, and, in at least one case, asked an Italian woman to open a bundle. It turned out to be a tray of pastries, and the woman good-naturedly offered one of the sweets to the officer.

Streets surrounding the Colosseum were closed to traffic, armoured vehicles blocked intersections, bomb-sniffing puppies were used and police checked chemical lavatories with scanners for explosives near the Colosseum.

Terrorisms repercussions were being felt in Christian communities across the Mediterranean. In Egypt, Coptic faiths announced Easter services would be limited to prayers, without galas. The measurement was taken after twin bombings killed 45 people at faiths on Palm Sunday.

In Rome, the Good Friday gathering was tranquilize as participants, estimated by Vatican security to number 20,000, clutched candles in the stillnes of a very warm night. Some mothers hoisted children on their shoulders so they could watch.

Earlier at the Vatican, Francis prostrated himself in prayer during a service in St Peters Basilica. The 80 -year-old pope lay for several minutes before the central altar.

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