Pope Francis today removed his mask and reached out to touch the faithful, both young and old, at a ‘limited’ public audience at the Vatican.
The 83-year-old, who resumed his Wednesday General Audience’s last week, told the packed San Damaso courtyard that the coronavirus would be defeated by God’s love.
The pontiff removed his mask when he stepped out of his car, he smiled and chatted, shook hands and touched the foreheads of congregants who scrummed at the barriers.
‘The Christian response to the pandemic and to the consequent socio-economic crisis is based on love,’ Francis told the masses as he reflected on ‘Healing the World’ in his sermon.
Pope Francis blesses a child as he arrives at the San Damaso courtyard for the weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday
The Pope removed his mask when he stepped out of his old Ford Focus and only put it back on again when he got back into the car to leave the ceremony
Pope Francis greets babies at the San Damaso courtyard for the weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday
A boy reaches out to shake hands with the pontiff as many others crowd at the barrier to meet him
The Argentine beams at the congregants assembled in San Damaso courtyard on Wednesday
Pope Francis playfully dons a hat given to him by a worshipper at the San Damaso courtyard this morning
The Pope said we could emerge from the coronavirus improved by it ‘if we all seek the common good together.’
But he referred to ‘partisan interests emerging’ which showed that some just wanted to selfishly take advantage of the crisis, Vatican News reported.
‘Unfortunately, we are witnessing the emergence of partisan interests. For example, there are those who want to appropriate possible solutions for themselves, such as (developing) vaccines and then selling them to others,’ he said.
‘Some are taking advantage of the situation to foment divisions, to create economic or political advantages, to start or intensify conflict.’
As a consequence, the Argentine said it was incumbent upon Christians to love their enemies, a difficult task, but an ‘art that can be learned and improved.’
‘A virus that does not recognise barriers, borders, or cultural or political distinctions must be faced with a love without barriers, borders or distinction,’ the Pope said.
With God’s help, Francis told his flock, ‘we can heal the world,’ if we all strive alongside each other ‘for the common good.’
‘Thus, through our gestures, even the most humble ones, something of the image of God that we bear with us will be made visible, because God is the Trinity of Love.’ The Pope said.
He likened those who did not help others in need during the global pandemic to ‘devotees of Pontius Pilate’ who ‘simply wash their hands of it’.
Pontius Pilate was the ancient Roman official who ordered Jesus’s crucifixion but didn’t take responsibility for it.
The Pope pens a note to newlyweds who traditionally turn up to the audience to receive his blessing
The faithful smile rapturously with their masks around their chins as the Pope approaches the barrier
The Pope was all smiles as he waved and smiled at the people just feet away from him
The Pope gets out of his Ford Focus at the San Damaso courtyard in The Vatican on Wednesday
A member of the crowd holds a rainbow flag as the faithful crowd at the barrier to meet the famously liberal pontiff
The Pope doffs his cap to the gathered faithful who take pictures on their phones on Wednesday
A boy sitting on a man’s shoulders meets with the Pope on Wednesday
A photographer looks on as a general view shows the San Damaso courtyard as Pope Francis holds a limited public audience in The Vatican on September 9, 2020
Congregants reach out to the Pope with cards and crucifixes for him to bless as he arrives at the San Damaso courtyard on Wednesday
‘The coronavirus is showing us that each person’s true good is a common good and, vice versa, the common good is a true good for the person,’ he said.
‘Health, in addition to being an individual good, is also a public good. A healthy society is one that takes care of everyone’s health.’
The Pope’s weekly audience resumed last week, the first since March.
Visitors had their temperatures checked as they entered the Vatican and nearly everyone among the audience of 500 or so wore masks. The public sat in seats arranged to ensure social distancing.
It is not clear if temperatures were check today as they were last week, byt , but photos showed that masks were not used by all although there was a socially-distanced seating plan, they crowded close together to meet the pontiff.
The Pope could be seen putting his mask back on after getting back in the car to leave the ceremony
The Swiss Guards and other clerics could be seen without their masks on today as the Pope delivered his sermon
The Pope gestures to the masses at his general audience on Wednesday
The Pope clasps his hands together as he blesses those gathered in the square on Wednesday
Nuns wearing masks speak with each other ahead of the Pope’s sermon on Wednesday
There was a socially-distanced seating plan but many of the crowd did not appear to be concerned by the virus