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Pope Francis Cancels Vatican Christmas Tradition Due To COVID-19

Chanel Adams

Pope Francis is taking precautions with COVID-19. He canceled a traditional pre-Christmas ceremony due to the coronavirus crisis. The ceremony usually takes place during Rome’s Christmas season on the Spanish steps. However, the ceremony could attract thousands to the landmark area.

During the event, the pope places a wreath of flowers at the base of the statue of the Madonna. Then, he blesses it from a distance another wreath placed around the statue’s arm. However, he decided to skip the ceremony for health reasons.

Pope Francis cancels traditional Christmas event

As per Reuters, the Vatican revealed that Francis plans to skip the ceremony, which popes have carried out on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception since 1953. The reason is “to avoid [the] risk of contagion caused by gatherings of people.” Thousands of people travel to the area and line the streets to see the pope and to pray with him. But that could cause the coronavirus to spread even more as it rages on around the world.

Instead, the pope will hold a private ceremony to entrust the city, its people, and the sick around the world to the Madonna. The Vatican previously announced that access to the pope’s traditional Christmas activities, including his “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the city and the world”) blessing and message, will have restrictions and limitations due to COVID-19.

The Vatican will only allow a limited amount of people into St. Peter’s Basilica for papal Christmas Eve and Christmas Day masses. Both services will be broadcast on television and live-streamed on the internet. In October, the pope’s weekly general audiences had a limited amount of people indoors. Since its first outbreak in February, Italy recorded 54,904 COVID-19 deaths. It also registered 1.585 million cases to date.

Pope’s new book criticizes COVID deniers

Pope Francis denounced COVID deniers and anti-maskers in his new book. According to USA Today, a Facebook meme went viral. It claimed that Francis called out people who refuse to wear masks and prevent the spread of COVID-19 as “selfish.”

“Breaking: Pope Francis denounces Anti-Maskers, says they protest for themselves but never for others,” the meme read on the “CALL TO ACTIVISM” Facebook community on Wednesday, November 25.

The meme then quoted the pope and suggested Catholics should help spread his message.

“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because children lack water or education…they are incapable of moving outside of their own little world of interests,” Francis said.

The quote comes directly from his new book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, which hit bookshelves on Tuesday, December 1. The Facebook community told USA Today that it created the meme from the book quotes that were featured in the Independent, the Guardian, and NPR. Both the publisher and the author, Austen Ivereigh, confirm that the quote is accurate and true.

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