BY FRANCES D'EMILIO
ROME (AP) -- Thousands of people, including nuns, families with toddlers, and young tourists, endured exceptionally tight anti-terrorism checks to pray at the Good Friday procession at the Colosseum, where Pope Francis expressed shame over humanity's failings.
Francis, wearing a plain white coat, presided over the traditional, evening Way of the Cross procession from a rise overlooking the popular tourist monument as faithful took turns carrying a tall 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 shame for humanity's failings and hope that "hardened hearts" will become capable of forgiving and loving.
With Easter two days away, Francis said faithful look to Christ "with eyes lowered in shame and with hearts full of hope."
Such shame, he said, derives from "all those images of devastation, destruction, shipwrecks, that have become routine in our lives." Hundreds of thousands of migrants have endured hardships at the hands of human traffickers to try to reach Europe, which has increasingly been rejecting them, and thousands of them have perished at sea during the last few years.
Evoking wars and conflicts, as well as attacks on Christian minorities, Francis also voiced shame for "the innocent blood spilled daily by women, children, immigrants, and persons persecuted because of the color of their skin, or for the ethnic or social group they belong to, and for their faith" in Jesus.
The pontiff also made a reference to clergy's handling of sex abuse of minors, saying: "shame for all those times that we bishops, priests and other clergy scandalized" the church.