Vatican's Good Friday to focus on Christian persecutions in India

Vatican City - The faithful will be invited to reflect on the persecution of Christians in India in prayers at this year's traditional Good Friday Way of the Cross ceremony at Rome's Colosseum, the Vatican said Tuesday. Pope Benedict XVI is set to preside the evening ceremony - also known as Via Crucis - which commemorates Jesus' final hours including his crucifixion.

Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India, has been given the task of writing the meditations for this year's Via Crucis which will focus on "evil in the world, on pain and on the various forms of suffering," the Vatican said.

"In this context, he (Menamparampil) will also refer to Christians who suffer persecution in India and in other countries, as well as to the violence that destroys ethnic and religious groups, and to conflicts fuelled by economic interests," the Vatican said.

Violence aimed at Christians have increased in India in recent years including in the eastern state of Orissa, which witnessed widespread anti-Christian violence after the August 23, 2008 murder of Hindu leader Laxmananda Saraswati an attack police blamed on Maoist rebels.

Nearly 40 people, mostly Christians, were killed in the Hindu-Christian violence in the state that continued over two months.

The Vatican notes how for the "second consecutive year, the Pope wishes to draw attention to the continent of Asia" given that last year the Way of the Cross prayers then penned by Hong Kong's Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun also focused on the "persecutions the Catholic Church faces in various part of the world."