Well-spaced faithful have gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the first time in months for the traditional Sunday papal blessing, reports the AP. They cast their gaze at the window where the pope normally addresses the faithful. Pope Francis has been delivering the blessing from inside the Apostolic library during the pandemic. Francis recalled his scheduled visit on Sunday to the Naples area to draw attention to environmental damage caused by toxic-waste dumping by the mob. The visit—canceled during the pandemic—was timed to mark the fifth anniversary of his ecological manifesto, and the pope announced a year of reflection on his 2015 environmental encyclical, "Praised Be."
Francis came to the window and waved to the people in the piazza at the end of the blessing. St. Peter's has been closed to the public since March, and Romans have been taking advantage since its reopening, per Rome Reports. "There was hardly anyone," says one person. "It was so weird. When we saw we could go inside the basilica, we went in. As a Roman, nothing like this has ever happened."
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