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Televised Q&A by Pope Benedict XVI on Good Friday

pope bene

Pope Benedict XVI conducted a televised question-and-answer session to characterize Good Friday, dealing with questions from as far away as Iraq, Ivory Coast and Japan on issues as comprehensive as death, violence, intimidation and suffering.

The Pope said to a Japanese girl disheartened by the ravaging quake and tsunami in her homeland that her suffering isn’t in vain and guaranteed a Muslim woman in brutally-crushed Ivory Coast of the Vatican’s peace efforts there.

In a taped appearance on Italian state TV, Benedict responded to some of a few thousand questions submitted online by Catholics and non-Catholics alike on the sacred day when Christians contemplate on the suffering and crucifixion of Christ.

The bizarre TV appearance was aired a few hours before Benedict was about to perform a service of prayer and meditation in St. Peter’s Basilica. Subsequently, he was anticipated at the Colosseum in Rome for the traditional Way of the Cross procession.

During the question-and-answer, Benedict sat at a desk and spoke gently in Italian and was dressed in white robes.

The first question came from a 7-year-old Japanese girl, Elena, who told the pope that many casualties in the March 11 disaster were of her age and asked why children have to be so sad. "I also have the same questions: Why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease? And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent," Benedict said.

Aiming for words of ease, the pope told Elena that "even if we are still sad, God is by your side," and that she should tell herself: "One day, I will understand that this suffering was not empty, it wasn’t in vain, but behind it was a good plan, a plan of love."

"As an ambassador of Jesus, what do you advise for our country?" Asked by a Muslim woman from the politically tormented Ivory Coast.

Benedict assured the woman that the Vatican was doing what it can and said that he asked an African cardinal from a group of his aides to go to Ivory Coast "to try to intervene, to talk with different groups and different people to foster a new beginning."

"The only path is to renounce violence, to begin anew with dialogue," the pope stated.

Even though the Q&A session diverged from the Vatican’s normal Good Friday routine, in other places in the world, age-old Christian practices marked the solemn day.