Holy Week at Vatican Won't Include the Public

With Italy shut down during outbreak, Catholics are advised to watch liturgies on TV
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 15, 2020 11:40 AM CDT
Holy Week at Vatican Won't Include the Public
Pope Francis leaves Sunday after delivering his blessing from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The Vatican's Holy Week ceremonies will go ahead but without public attendance as Italy tries to contain the coronavirus outbreak, the Holy See said Sunday. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement that liturgical celebrations will be held but that who will participate is being reviewed, the AP reports. He added that in any case, the faithful will be able to follow the ceremonies on TV, radio and through online media. "The Vatican announces that #PopeFrancis' Holy Week liturgical celebrations will take place without the physical presence of the faithful, in an attempt to contain the spread of the Covid-19 #coronavirus," the Holy See's media arm tweeted. In an elaboration, Vatican media added that the office of the papal household was informing people that "until April 12 the General Audiences and the Angelus presided over by the Holy Father will be available only in live streaming on the official Vatican News website."

April 12 is Easter Sunday, when tens of thousands of people usually fill St. Peter's Square for an outdoor Mass and to listen to the pope's speech and receive his blessing delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. Although Easter itself wasn't specified in the Vatican statements, it appeared likely restrictions on large gatherings will continue in Italy. With St. Peter's Square closed to the public, and one case of infection reported by the Vatican, Pope Francis on Sunday delivered his weekly commentary and blessing from the Apostolic Library instead of from a window overlooking the vast square. Francis praised priests for “creativity” in tending to their flocks, especially in the region of Lombardy, northern Italy, where thousands are hospitalized or in quarantine. He said their efforts demonstrated there are “a thousand ways to be near” to the faithful, if not physically.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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