Pope Francis is back giving out kisses without a mask as coronavirus cases rise across Italy. The 83-year-old—who lost part of a lung during a childhood illness—was seen kissing the hands of newly-ordained priests during a general audience in Vatican City on Wednesday, reports the Daily Beast. He did not wear a mask, and only some of the priests around him did. Photos show him speaking closely with one maskless priest inside Paul VI Hall and kissing the hand of a priest whose mask did not cover his nose. Vatican commentator Robert Mickens shared several other images he says are "very disturbing." One shows the pope speaking to an attendee who had pulled his mask down. Mickens says several attendees did the same thing when speaking with the pope.
It's unclear why the pontiff was taking such "extraordinary risks," per the Daily Beast. Only a month ago, the pope wore a face mask while arriving to greet a crowd at the Apostolic Palace, though he removed it to speak, and was also seen using hand sanitizer. "A healthy society is one that takes care of everyone's health," he told the crowd on Sept. 9, per the AP. A Philippine cardinal tested positive for the virus a day later, some 10 days after meeting with the pope. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin afterward explained the pontiff was being "constantly monitored" for a possible infection, per AFP. Wednesday's service came a day after face coverings were made mandatory in all outdoor settings in Vatican City and in workplaces where maintaining distance isn't possible, reports the Catholic News Agency. (Read more Pope Francis stories.)