In an attempt to help the Italian government mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Vatican agreed to limit Pope Francis’ presence in St. Peter’s Square. However, after a month of tight restrictions, Pope Francis reemerged on Sunday, April 18, for noon day prayer to much fanfare.
“I offer a warm greeting to all of you, people of Rome and pilgrims,” Pope Francis said, acknowledging the presence of many different flags present in the Square for the recitation of the “Regina Coeli” prayer. The visitors were all wearing masks and socially distanced in keeping with Italian authorities recommendations.
The pope remarked, “Thanks be to God, we can find ourselves again in this square for the Sunday and holiday appointment…I am happy, thanks be to God! And thank you for your presence.”
During his remarks, Pope Francis emphasized Jesus’ humanity and the power of Christ’s presence to transform those He encounters.
“Being Christian is not first of all a doctrine or a moral ideal; it is a living relationship with him, with the risen Lord: we look at him, we touch him, we are nourished by him and, transformed by his love, we look at, touch and nourish others as brothers and sisters,” he said.
Jesus invites his disciples to truly look at him, which involves “intention, will” and an attitude of loving care and concern, he said.
Inviting the crowd to touch Christ, Pope Francis said we “cannot remain at a distance” when called to love because love requires contact, sharing and “entering into a communion of life, a communion with him.”
Inspired by the Pope’s message of hope, many in both Italy and across the European Union are optimistic that as vaccination disruption ramps up more normal patterns of life will resume.
Committed to ensuring the safety of all of God’s children, the Vatican has continued to emphasize the importance of practicing healthy COVID-19 safety protocols while seeking to remain meaningfully engaged in the lives of friends and family that many individuals have not seen since the start of lockdowns in March 2020.
Source: Catholic News Service