Pope Francis said yesterday that people are more important than the economy, as countries decide how quickly to reopen their countries from coronavirus lockdowns.
Francis made his comments, departing from a prepared script, at the first noon address from his window overlooking St Peter’s Square in three months as Italy’s lockdown drew to an end.
“Healing people, not saving (money) to help the economy (is important), healing people, who are more important than the economy,” Francis said.
“We people are temples of the Holy Spirit, the economy is not,” he said.
Francis did not mention any countries.
Many governments are deciding whether to reopen their economies to save jobs and living standards, or whether to maintain lockdowns until they are sure the virus is fully under control.
Pope Francis’s words were met with applause by the hundreds of people in the square, many of whom wore masks and kept several metres from each other.
The square was reopened to the public last Monday.
Normally tens of thousands attend on a Sunday.
The last time the Pope delivered his message and blessing from the window was March 1, before Italy, where more than 33,000 people have died from the virus, imposed a lockdown.
The last restrictions will be lifted on Wednesday.
Francis led the crowd in silent prayer for medical workers who lost their lives by helping others.
He said that he hoped the world would come out of the crisis more united, rather than divided.
“People do not come out of a crisis like this the same as before. We will come out either better or worse than before. Let’s have the courage to emerge better than before in order to build the post-crisis period of the pandemic positively,” he said.
Earlier, the Pope also called on Catholics to allow the coronavirus pandemic to “awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good”.
“In this time of pandemic, how wrong narcissism is: the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others, and not to admit our own frailties and mistakes,” the Pontiff said.
Francis asked God to “free us from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good. Even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves”.
Throughout the crisis, which has hit Italy particularly hard, the Pope has repeatedly called on worshippers to follow rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus when taking part in religious services.
Francis has repeatedly called on worshippers to bear in mind the many people who will suffer poverty due to the crisis.
Amid the outbreak, the Pope has been cautious about his health, although he is generally fit at age 83.
Because he had part of his lung removed at a young age, many have been concerned that coronavirus would hit him hard.
Nonetheless, he has struggled in the absence of connecting directly with worshippers and said during his first video-streamed prayer that he felt as though he was in a cage.
The Pope also voiced concern for the peoples of the Amazon, who he said were “particularly vulnerable” in the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis is a new threat in the Amazon where a surge in deforestation under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro already threatens isolated tribes.
“There are so many infected and dead people, including among the indigenous peoples, who are particularly vulnerable,” the Pope said, urging that no one be without medical assistance.
According to the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, the virus has already spread through 40 native groups with 537 cases of infection and 102 fatalities.
The latest census from 2010 found nearly 800,000 indigenous people in 300 tribes living in Brazil.
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