Pope Francis; christianity; pandemic protocols; vaccine

On Sunday, faithful Christians around the world sat scattered across benches, hymns muted muted behind masks.

Many have stayed at home out of caution or restrictions, spreading sacred services online. And the Pope preached his message inside, far from an arid St. Peter’s Square.

Pandemic protocol was once again the unwanted guest at the Easter table, but this year there was a silver lining: COVID-19 vaccinations.

A football team from Lyon, France has turned their stadium into a mass vaccination site for the holiday weekend. More than 9,000 people were due to receive their vaccines as France grapples with a wave of infections. Some French churches have held Easter services at midnight just before dawn Sunday instead of Saturday evening due to a national curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A hospital in Lombardy, Italy, presented a traditional Easter cake in the shape of a dove symbolizing peace to anyone waiting for a vaccine. The nation has struggled to cap a variant-fueled spike in COVID cases, and midnight services have also been moved to adhere to a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Pope Francis delivered his Easter message at Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica before a gathering of around 200 people, rather than the traditional speech on the balcony overlooking a plaza filled with thousands of people.

But the speech was broadcast on multiple platforms, and at one point 9,000 people viewed Vatican News’s only English-language Facebook page, Vatican News reported.

The pandemic was at the center of the speech of the pope “Urbi et Orbi” (for “To the city and to the world”) while Francis denounces the armed conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Europe. the East in the midst of the global health crisis and advocated for equity of care.

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“The pandemic continues to spread, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nevertheless – and this is scandalous – the armed conflicts are not over and the military arsenals are being reinforced, ”François declared. “This is the scandal today.”

Francis called for a “spirit of global responsibility” and encouraged nations to ensure that vaccines reach the poorest nations.

“Everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, needs assistance and has the right to access necessary care,” he said.

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In Jerusalem, the Easter service at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was celebrated by the Latin Patriarch Pierbattista, the oldest Catholic religious in the Holy Land. The site of the Old City of Jerusalem is where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.

Israel has carried out one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the world, allowing the country to reopen restaurants, hotels and religious sites.

Contribution: The Associated Press

Alicia R. Rucker