Pope Francis urges priests to tend to the sick and health care workers during coronavirus epidemic

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, at the Vatican March 10, 2020. For the second day this week the pope celebrated Mass without a small group of the faithful in order to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed that priests would find the courage to visit those who are sick and offer accompaniment to health care professionals and volunteers working during the coronavirus epidemic.

During a live broadcast of his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis again prayed for the many people who have fallen ill because of the virus and for health care workers.

"Let us also pray to the Lord for our priests, so that they have the courage to go out and go to those who are sick, bringing the strength of the word of God and the Eucharist and to accompany health care workers and volunteers in the work they are doing," he said March 10 at the start of the Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The Italian government issued a late-night measure March 9 extending "red zone" restrictions already in place in the north to all of Italy, urging people to stay at home and avoid all unessential travel as part of already implemented plans to prevent the further spread of the virus.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

The move came as Italy became the nation with the second-highest number of deaths related to the coronavirus and the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world with 9,172 known infections, according to the World Health Organization March 10. As of March 9, the virus has claimed the lives of 463 people in Italy, the Italian health ministry said.

The normally private daily Masses were being broadcast live on Vatican News and the Vatican YouTube channel to help people still be united in prayer with the pope, the Vatican had said.


In his homily, the pope reflected on the first reading in which God tells the prophet Isaiah that even though people's sins are like "scarlet," the Lord will make them "white as snow" if people are willing and obey his command to set things right.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

The pope invited people to use the time of Lent to speak to God honestly about their sins because he is able "to change everything."

Like Adam and Eve, people often try to hide from God when they realize they have sinned, he said. Instead, "do not be afraid to come and talk, have courage even in your misery" and shame, the pope said.

Another way people try to hide is by putting on appearances of not being a sinner and by proudly showing off their adherence to God's laws or their acts of charity, he said.

"Vanity never heals. Rather it is poison, bringing disease to the heart, that hardness of heart that tells you, 'No, don't turn to the Lord, don't go. Stay," believing oneself as self-sufficient.

"Speak with the Lord. He knows, he knows who we are. We know too, but vanity always calls us to cover ourselves" and hide, the pope said.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]

The latest from america

The new cardinals will bring the total number of cardinal electors to 128, of whom 73 will have been appointed by Pope Francis.
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 25, 2020
Many are wondering after the lack of response by the Vatican to questions raised about what Pope Francis actually said about civil unions.
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 24, 2020
Saying that his parents "taught me the importance of faith and prayer from a young age," Trump went on to say that "Melania and I have gotten to visit some amazing churches and meet with great faith leaders from around the world."
Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager who used his computer programming skills to spread devotion to the Eucharist, was beatified in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 10, 2020. (CNS photo/courtesy Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis)
Acutis’s beatification is a beacon to all those who live their lives, for better or for worse, increasingly online.
Mike SeayOctober 24, 2020