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.
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 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.