Inside the VaticanMarch 18, 2020
Pope Francis walks the nearly deserted streets of Rome in late afternoon on March 15. (Copyright: Vatican Media)

With more countries shutting down nonessential businesses because of the coronavirus, church leaders have faced tough decisions about whether to keep churches open to the faithful or to close them to mitigate the spread of infections. Last week, Pope Francis weighed in after a Vatican cardinal announced that all of Rome’s churches would close.

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The pope prayed for pastors at his daily Mass the day after the announcement, saying, “Drastic measures are not always good. Therefore, we pray that the Holy Spirit might grant pastoral discernment to pastors so that they might perceive measures that might not leave the holy, faithful people of God alone.” Within a few hours, the decision was overturned, and instead, each pastor would decide whether to open his church.

This week on “Inside the Vatican,” Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and I, recording from home due to the pandemic, unpack the ways Pope Francis and other Vatican leaders have been navigating the balance between public health and pastoral closeness. We discuss Pope Francis’ Mass intentions responding to current events like the migrant crisis and Italian prison riots, as well as the pope’s pilgrimage through the empty streets of Rome, where he visited the icon and crucifix at the center of two famous plague-ending miracles.

“This was a dramatic expression of faith in the midst of crisis,” Gerry said.

Links from the show:

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