Pope Francis Held His First Audience in Six Months In Front of Masked Crowd

Grant Rindner
·2 mins read
Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO - Getty Images
Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO - Getty Images

From Oprah Magazine

  • Pope Francis held his first address in front of an assembled crowd since March on September 2.

  • Due to the coronavirus, social distancing guidelines were followed, and many in attendance wore masks, albeit not the Pope.

  • The Pope spoke passionately about Lebanon in the aftermath of the tragic ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut.

The Pope spoke in front of a public audience for the first time in six months on September 2. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, he had been giving his weekly addresses online since March, and many of those gathered to hear him were wearing masks (though the Pope himself was not).

Due to the reduced crowd size, he spoke in the San Damaso courtyard, a smaller venue than St. Peter's Square, where his addresses are usually held. Per the Wall Street Journal, seats there were roughly three feet apart, which is half the distance the CDC recommends for effective social distancing.

One of the topics the Pope focused most on was the recent devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon last month, which killed roughly 200 people and injured another 6,000. Pope Francis held a Lebanese flag to show his support, and said that the country, "Cannot be abandoned in its solitude."

"Do not abandon your homes and your heritage. Do not abandon the dreams of those who believed in the dawn of a beautiful and prosperous country," he said. "Help your faithful and your people to rise up and be protagonists of a new rebirth.”

He asked that people join in "a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon" on September 4.

Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO - Getty Images
Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO - Getty Images

Back in March, the Pope addressed the Italian public in a recorded video. At that time, the coronavirus was rampant in Italy, though the country's outlook has improved considerably since then. He previously said that he felt "caged" by the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Vatican itself has been reopening since earlier in the summer. Masses at St. Peter's Basilica began again in mid-May, while the Vatican Museum opened up in June, albeit with reduced capacity and additional restrictions.

In addition to Lebanon, the Pope also spoke about what we've learned from the sustained coronavirus crisis.

"The current pandemic has highlighted our interdependence. We are all linked to each other, for better or for worse," he said. "To come out of this crisis better than before, we have to do so together, all of us, in solidarity."

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