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Rome Reports

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Pilgrims touched by Pope's apology during General Audience

After several weeks of organizing the General Audience in the Courtyard of St. Damasus, the Vatican resumed the weekly meeting with pilgrims inside Paul VI hall.

As it as is customary, the pope usually stops and greets the pilgrims before he begins his catechesis.

This week, however, the protocol was changed.

“I would like to do what I usually do: go down close to you to greet you. However, with the new norms, it’s better to maintain distances. To the sick, I warmly greet them from here. Keep a prudent distance, as should be done, because when I come down there, everyone gets close and forms crowds.”

These pilgrims who expected to greet the pope understood this gesture, and agreed that it is the best choice for everyone during this time of increased health measures due to coronavirus.

“We also noticed the pain when he expressed himself. He demonstrated his suffering of not being able to get close to the people. I believe it's one of the things that he cares about the most.”

Andrea and Stefania got married in June and traveled from Trieste to the Vatican to have their marriage blessed by the pope. Even though they did not receive a blessing from up close, they were equally grateful.

“Even if we had different expectations, we have to think about the historical context in which we are living. The fact that we were able to attend and be here is already a lot because until recently, this was not possible.”

These two sisters from Brazil are tour guides and have been bringing pilgrims to the Vatican for many years. This time, however, it was the first time they attended the General Audience by themselves.

“It was a great experience because we were really close. Usually, we are here in the square, but as you see, the square is empty, and in the Paul VI hall there were very few people.”

“This time it was very moving for us because he humbly apologized and said that he could not come to greet us. This was very special.”

Pope Francis has been characterized as a pontiff that rejoices his closeness with the faithful, but due to increased health measures, he is asking pilgrims to collaborate to help get out of this crisis together.

Christian Campos