Pope Francis elated to be back with the people for 1st General Audience since COVID outbreak
Individuals were able to enter from the Bronze Doors of the right colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, as early as 7:30 am. Pilgrims had to maintain proper social distancing, sanitize hands, have temperatures taken and pass through security clearance.
To reach the Courtyard of San Damaso, the faithful had to go past the masked Swiss Guards, climb about 75 steps, before arriving at the site of the audience. It is rare for faithful and pilgrims to have access to this space.
In the past, General Audiences were held in St. Peter’s Square, or in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
Today, the Holy Father received a warm welcome, and while staying distant, took time to pass and greet various faithful eager to see him.
While continuing his series of catecheses on COVID 19, Francis recognized that living through this current pandemic, we have come to realize how dependent we are on one another, how we are meant to show solidarity with one another, because we were all created by God and all share a common home.
“We can only emerge stronger from the present crisis if we do so together,” he said, reminding the Church’s social doctrine thus speaks of the need for the virtue of solidarity.
Authentic solidarity, he underscored, is not just about offering help to others, but is a matter of justice, and requires a “radical change in our thinking that looks to the good of the community, defends the right to life for all, and promotes a just sharing of the earth’s goods.”
The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel, he recalled, shows what happens when a society seeks to build its own way to heaven, forsaking God, losing sight of solidarity with the most vulnerable, and valuing things over relationships.
“This destructive “Babel syndrome,” he said, “is countered by the event of Pentecost, where the gift of the Holy Spirit creates a harmonious unity in diversity for the true building up of society.
Pope Francis prayed, “May the Spirit grant us the wisdom and creativity to find those forms of solidarity needed in our post-Covid world, for the healing of interpersonal and social ills, and the growth of the human family in fraternity, justice and peace.”
Addressing English-speaking faithful, Francis noted that his thoughts turn especially to young people returning to school in the coming weeks.
“Upon all of you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said, praying: “God bless you!”
At the end of the audience, the Holy Father made an appeal specifically for Lebanon, calling for a day of fasting and prayer, at the Audience’s conclusion. He also announced that Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, would be traveling to the nation’s capital of Beirut.