Pope Francis wore his mask for the first time at a public service.
Pope Francis on Tuesday wore his mask for the first time at a public function when he and other religious leaders attended a prayer service for peace around the world.
In a report on Reuters, the Pope wore his white mask during the service at the Rome Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Previously, he wore masks only inside a car taking him to his weekly audiences in the Vatican.
The Pope had come under some criticism — particularly on social media – for not wearing his mask at his general audiences and sometimes coming in relatively close contact with the visitors.
Pope Francis attended the service with other Christian leaders in the basilica — including the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians Patriarch Bartholomew.
Simultaneously in other locations in Rome, Jews were praying in the city’s synagogue, while Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim leaders also prayed for peace.
The said event took place as the number of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 has risen steadily in Italy in the past few weeks. On Monday, Italy had recorded 10,874 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, up from 9,338.
As per the report, there had also been a relatively small spike in the Vatican wherein four members of the Swiss Guards — the elite and colorfully-dressed corps that protects the Pope — had also tested positive for coronavirus disease.
The annual event was started last 1986 by the late Pope John Paul and Rome’s Catholic Community of Sant’ Egido. However, it was scaled down this year due to pandemic.
Pope Francis took off his mask while he read his address as did other leaders when they spoke, but he wore his mask back when he finished speaking.
The said event continued in the adjacent Campidoglio square that was designed by Michelangelo wherein both Christian and non-Christian religious leaders read addresses, some with messages to politicians.
According to Pope Francis, peace was the “priority of all politics”.
“God will ask an accounting of those who failed to seek peace, or who fomented tensions and conflicts. He will call them to account for all the days, months and years of war endured by the world’s peoples“, the Pope said.
Pope Francis also said that the coronavirus pandemic had shown that “no one is saved alone”.