VATICAN CITY — Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis took a different approach to his annual Easter Sunday Mass, which was held inside St. Peter’s Basilica with few guests.
Typically, tens of thousands of people pack St. Peter’s Square outside during the Mass and the pope’s “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message. According to The Associated Press, the public instead tuned in online or via television.
In his address, Pope Francis focused on what he called "the contagion of hope" amid "a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family," Vatican News reported. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, he said, marks "the victory of love over the root of evil."
The pope went on to offer comfort to those suffering because of the outbreak.
“For many, this is an Easter of solitude, lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties,” he said.
In addition, Pope Francis thanked health care workers and urged politicians around the world “to work actively for the common good,” according to Vatican News. He also urged people not to be indifferent, self-centered, divided or forgetful.
“Indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time," he said, adding that the terms “prevail when fear and death overwhelm us.”
As of Sunday morning, Italy had reported more than 152,000 coronavirus cases, the third-highest total globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 19,000 people in Italy have died from the virus.