Pope Francis expresses solidarity with coronavirus patients


The Pope praises coronavirus health and expresses his ‘closeness’ to patients before shaking hand with tens of the congregation at his weekly audience

  • Pope Francis praised those working to battle virus in Italy, which has 374 cases 
  • The Pope expressed his ‘closeness’ to patients as he kissed people in the crowds
  • Only a few of the 12,000 faithful who turned out to see him wore face masks

Pope Francis showed his solidarity with those suffering from the global outbreak of the coronavirus as he praised those working to battle the virus.

Italy has suffered the worst outbreak of the crisis in Europe, with 374 cases of the disease and 12 deaths. 

During his weekly audience at the Vatican, the Pope expressed his ‘closeness’ to coronavirus-infected patients as he hugged and kissed people in the crowds.

Pope Francis showed his solidarity with those suffering from the global outbreak of the coronavirus as he praised those working to battle the virus

Pope Francis showed his solidarity with those suffering from the global outbreak of the coronavirus as he praised those working to battle the virus

‘I would like to express my closeness to the coronavirus patients and to the health workers who are treating them, as well as to the civil authorities,’ Pope Francis said.

Only a few of the 12,000 or so faithful who turned out to see him on Saint Peter’s Square were wearing face masks.

But the 83-year-old Francis did not shy away from shaking hands with members of the congregation – and even kissed some of the children present.

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Pope Francis is known hugging the faithful or accepting kisses on his cheek or forehead.

Only a few of the 12,000 or so faithful who turned out to see him on Saint Peter's Square were wearing face masks

Only a few of the 12,000 or so faithful who turned out to see him on Saint Peter’s Square were wearing face masks

During his weekly audience at the Vatican, the Pope expressed his 'closeness' to coronavirus-infected patients as he kissed people in the crowds

During his weekly audience at the Vatican, the Pope expressed his ‘closeness’ to coronavirus-infected patients as he kissed people in the crowds

However, a year ago he explained his reticence for allowing people to kiss his ring, explaining the practice could spread germs.

In his Ash Wednesday homily marking the beginning of Lent, the pope exhorted the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics to ‘switch off the television and open the Bible’. 

He urged followers to give up trolling people on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook for Lent.

He said there was too much ‘verbal violence’ in the world which was ‘amplified by the internet’.

The 83-year-old Francis did not shy away from shaking hands with members of the congregation - and even kissed some of the children present

The 83-year-old Francis did not shy away from shaking hands with members of the congregation – and even kissed some of the children present

'I would like to express my closeness to the coronavirus patients and to the health workers who are treating them, as well as to the civil authorities,' Pope Francis said

‘I would like to express my closeness to the coronavirus patients and to the health workers who are treating them, as well as to the civil authorities,’ Pope Francis said

Francis added that Lent was ‘a time to give up useless words, gossip, rumours, tittle-tattle and speak to God on a first name basis.’

It comes as 50 more cases – including eight children – of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Italy, taking the toll past 370. Twelve patients have died.

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Almost a dozen towns have been quarantined in the northern part of the country in a desperate attempt to contain the worsening coronavirus crisis.

Cases from Italy have now been confirmed in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Greece and Spain, as well as Algeria and Brazil.

It comes after thousands of British families jetted to Italy during the half-term break from schools last week and Easter holidays are just five weeks away.

More than 81,000 cases of the COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – have been recorded across the world, with the death toll nearing 2,800.    



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