While public gatherings, including Masses, have been banned in Italy through April 3, Holy Week begins with the Palm Sunday liturgy April 5, so the notification from the Prefecture of the Papal Household was read as a sign that the ban would be extended, at least at the Vatican.
Vatican offices will remain open to ensure "essential services for the universal church," but each office is being asked to evaluate the best ways to provide those services while observing health precautions and guidelines on safe distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
"Synodality," which literally means "walking together," has become a key topic of Pope Francis' pontificate, but one which has raised questions and even confusion.
The Friday reflections in Lent, like in Advent, usually are led by the official "preacher of the papal household," who, for the past 40 years, has been Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.
As the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in Europe continued to grow, the French Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes announced that pilgrims were still welcome, but the pools the sick bathe in hoping for healing would be closed temporarily.
While Ash Wednesday Masses were canceled in several northern Italian dioceses to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, bishops composed special prayers for their people and offered alternative ways to begin the celebration of Lent.
In his speech to council members, Pope Francis said the council's work on revising the section had reached a conclusion, but he did not indicate when he would promulgate the revised section of canon law.