Married couple will write about family for this year’s Way of the Cross in Rome

The Vatican announced yesterday that Pope Benedict had selected, for the first time, a married couple to write the reflections for the Good Friday Way of the Cross — and Vatican Radio has a brief interview with the couple:

Pope Benedict XVI’s choice of theme for the Way of the Cross this Good Friday – the family – comes at a most propitious time in the life of the Church and wider society. In many countries the institutions of marriage and family are under intense scrutiny as governments and legislators tackle the issues of same-sex marriage as opposed to unions, adoption and the right to life.

In short the meaning of family, the role of family and the mission of family is being questioned. But what does our faith teach us in this regard? Husband and wife, Danilo and Annamaria Zanzucchi, have been asked to write the texts of the meditations for the Good Friday Way of the Cross, April 6 next, at Rome’s Colosseum. The couple, personally chosen by Pope Benedict, were among the closest collaborators of Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, especially as leaders of the “New Families” movement.

Annamaria: “Our first reaction was one of surprise and I must also say a little fear in the face of this great mystery that is the suffering of Jesus, having to verbalize it seemed too difficult for us. At the same time, we are profoundly grateful to the Pope for choosing the theme of the family for something so profound and so strong. Expressing our participation in the redemptive suffering of Jesus is also a gift from God, because it gives us the opportunity to reflect on this reality and we are grateful indeed to the Holy Father, who made this choice.

Q. – Is this to place particular focus on the family at this current moment in time? Or perhaps a recognition of the maturity of the laity and married couples in the expression of our faith?

Danilo: “I would say both. Certainly there is a particular focus of the Church at many levels, all over the world, with regard to the family. And the family has become more conscious of being Church and having more responsibilities towards society: just think of the education of children. There has been interest in this theme on several occasions: I remember that, when he was elected Pope John Paul II established the Pontifical Council for the Family. He questioned us, and called a group of lay people from all over the world to hear about the reality and what needed to be done. He was committed to seeing the role of the family appreciated both in the Church and in society. Moreover, he even established a synod on the family, as soon as he was elected Pope. The result of this Synod was his famous encyclical “Familiaris consortio“, which on a global level is the most eloquent and most comprehensive treaty for the family which still today is inspiring many movements for the family, including our own. Benedict XVI has called us once again and is interested in our work, and in continuing the work for the family that John Paul II had begun”.


  1. This is very promising news — and exciting on a certain level. Both the husband and wife — Danilo and Annamaria — sound like thoughtful and prayerful individuals and I look forward to reading their reflections (assuming they are published somewhere in English).

    Deacon, thanks for bringing attention to this on your blog !!

  2. While I appreciate the sentiment expressed by the holy father, I disagree with his choice. I disagree in the form of these following questions and./or points:
    1) Does one or both of the people in the married couple have ANY theological training? While it is possible for well-trained lay theologians to express some parts of Church teaching and insight (though never Magisterial unless it’s verbatem repetition or application of Magisterial teachings to reflections or events), I wouldn’t feel as confident trusting they will not bungle this theologically and spiritually vs. clergy. Right now, I’m shuddering and I think I’d rather rely on St. Alphonsus Liguori’s SOTC right now.
    2) Of what bent is the couple theologically? Liberal in theology? nominal or weekly catechized? conservative and/or traditional?
    3) They are part of a movement as its closest collaborators, rather than the founders, and there is no indication of any sort or prior experience with dicasteries, pastoral councils, etc. indicated.
    4) Movements aren’t always in sync partially or wholly with the Magisterium or the Holy Father and can go off the rails. E.g. Neocatehumenal Way (not 100% liturgically sound, though some things approved by the Holy Father, SOME); Legionnaires of Christ.
    5) Look what wikipedia turned up: “…the Focolare Movement, though primarily Roman Catholic, now has strong links to the major Christian denominations and other religions, or in some cases, with the non-religious …. the movement, considers … as part of its mandate: to cooperate in the consolidation of unity in the Catholic world, with individuals and groups, movements and associations; to contribute to full communion with Christians of different churches; to move towards universal brotherhood with followers of various religions and people of other persuasions, including atheists ….” I shirk at the last statement. As much as we’d all love earthly peace and harmony and everyone back under the RCC’s wing as the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, the insitutional Church has made a mess with regard to proper application of ecumenism. Will their focus towards Vatican-II style ecumenism or appealing to their Christian brethen and atheists, cheapen or dampen the message in the SOTC and detract from the main focal point of the devotion: The passion and death of our lord recounting the sufferings He had from the Garden till his burial? This is my biggest fear if I read it I will be listening to some sappy “let’s all be happy and peaceful and loving universal families” stuff instead of reflecting on Christ’s passion and death.

  3. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Scroll down this link and you’ll find an interview with the couple that explains more of their background. It’s extensive, with close connections to two popes, and seems in full harmony with Catholic teaching.

  4. Young Canadian,
    Do you really think that such an eminent theologian and current pope would allow unqualified individuals to take on such an important role?
    I think it’s great…I will look forward to hearing what they have to say to us.
    …and Mark, no doubt it will be available on the Vatican website as we get closer to Holy Week.

  5. Thank you for the link providing further information on their background, Deacon. That link actually shows the couple had further involvement with the Pontifical Council for the Family, as well as a commission and synod under JPII. The article makes it sound as if they were simply part of a focus group and given a Q & A.

    While I am more at ease, I am still going to take a cautionary approach to this SOTC with regards to my other concerns. The Holy Father is getting older and more frail, and as always he has to be on guard that people don`t take his blessing to do liberal things in the Church. Also that Wikipedia entry does concern me (improper ecumenism and possibly inplied syncretism). So I`ll just sit back and `wait and see` approach on this one, and if it does happen, I won`t be happy, but it won`t mean my life is over.

  6. YCRC Male,
    Don’t believe all the hype about how “old and frail” the Holy Father is.
    Listen to some of his recent off-the-cuff homilies and Q+A’s and you will see that he is still quite at the top of his game and sharper than any of us …”rolling platform” notwithstanding.

  7. Narcisa Schafer says:

    These two are absolutely precious! Two stellar people got together and look what they have. What a great example of staying power. God bless them and their family.

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