Ireland Covid-19: lonely Easter celebrations for Pope Francis, deprived of the faithful

12:30  12 april  2020
12:30  12 april  2020 Source:   france24.com

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Le pape François pendant l'audience générale hebdomadaire au Vatican, le 23 octobre 2019. © Remo Casill, Reuters Pope Francis during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, October 23, 2019.

Pope Francis will give his traditional Easter Sunday blessing "Urbi et Orbi" inside a desperately empty St. Peter's Basilica due to a coronavirus pandemic. It will take place without the acclaim of the 70,000 faithful who came last year to listen and greet him in the open air.

It is on the immense Saint-Pierre square in Rome, crowded with people, that Pope Francis usually presides over Easter Mass where he gives his traditional blessing "Urbi et Orbi". It is the most important liturgical moment in the Christian tradition, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.

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But this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic , Pope Francis will respect, on Sunday, April 12, the strict confinement ordered in Italy and in Vatican City. He will stay in Saint Peter's Basilica surrounded by a tiny group of celebrants, the faithful can follow him on Mondovision or on the Internet.

"Darkness and death do not have the last word" , underlined the pope in a homily pronounced Saturday evening in the basilica, on the eve of Easter, stressing that this feast constitutes "an announcement of hope ".

"All will be well, we say tenaciously in these weeks, clinging to the beauty of our humanity and raising words of encouragement from the heart. But, with the passing days and the growing fears, even the the most daring hope can evaporate, "he noted during the Easter Vigil. However "we can and we must hope", despite "sad days".

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Pope Francis had recently joined in the appeal launched by the United Nations for an immediate and global ceasefire in order to preserve the most vulnerable civilians in countries facing the coronavirus. conflict. "Let’s silence the cry of death, that’s enough wars! Stop the production and trade of arms, because we need bread and not guns," he said on Saturday evening. in his homily.

The coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 people worldwide and forced half of humanity into confinement, but the impact of the pandemic on the wars in the Middle East remains uncertain.

At war for five years, and the scene of one of the worst humanitarian crises, Yemen announced, on Friday, a first case of contamination of Covid-19. But a ceasefire unilaterally declared from Thursday by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a power ally in Yemen, does not seem to hold. And in Syria, fighting is raging in the east of the province of Homs.

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Easter celebrations, which usually coincide with a massive arrival of tourists in Rome, have for several years been the subject of a huge anti-terrorist security system. This year, in completely empty streets, the police were responsible for carrying out reinforced controls to dissuade the Romans from going to the air by spreading the coronavirus.

In Jerusalem, for the first time in more than a century, the Holy Sepulcher - considered the holiest place in Christianity - will be closed to the public during the entire Easter weekend in Israel. An Easter mass will also be celebrated there without an audience.

Confessions by car in order to avoid contamination

The Catholic Church seems to have largely applied the instructions prohibiting religious gatherings, sometimes competing in imagination.

Catholic priests from Acapulco, a famous port and seaside resort in southern Mexico, proposed Holy Thursday to the faithful to confess without getting out of their car, in order to avoid contamination.

In a handful of American states, certain Protestant churches have on the other hand called for collective prayer gatherings at the approach of Easter, ignoring the cautions.

And in Bulgaria, the Orthodox churches will be open for Easter celebrations, which are held a week apart from Catholics and Protestants. Both the clergy and the government refused to impose strict confinement on the faithful. The spokesman of the Bulgarian Synod, Metropolitan Gavraïl, assured that "faith protects" and that "infection cannot be transmitted in a church".

With AFP

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