Pope Francis faces coronavirus ‘tempest’ alone in St Peter’s Square

     

Pope Francis presiding over a moment of prayer at St Peter’s Basilica on March 27, 2020 at St. Peter’s Square the Vatican. He gave a special blessing “To the City (Rome) and the World” stating:

‘We were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.’

Pope Francis stood alone in the vast Saint Peter’s Square Friday, March 27, to bless Catholics around the world suffering under the coronavirus pandemic, urging people to ease their fears through faith.

               

“Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by,” he said.

Pope Francis In a historic first, recited “Urbi et Orbi” blessing from the steps of the basilica to an empty square, addressing those in lockdown across the globe via television, radio and social media.

“We find ourselves afraid and lost,” he said in a homily ahead of the blessing, as he stood under a canopy protecting him from the rain.

He described it as a “tempest” which he said had put everybody “in the same boat”.

The hour had come to “reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering”, he said.

The pontiff traditionally speaks out against armed conflicts around the globe before delivering the Urbi et Orbi blessing. “We have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste,” said Francis in his homily.

Echoing the plea of billions of Catholics throughout the world, he said, “Tell us again, “Do not be afraid.””

“And we together with Peter cast all our anxieties to you because we know that you care for us,” he adds.

 “Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring,” he said.

“It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity, and solidarity. By his cross, we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.”

Italy is the hardest-hit country in Europe as in the past days has seen a rise in death toll exceeding that of China where the virus that causes COVID-19 originated. As of Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases rose to nearly 86,500, and the death toll reached 9,134.