The devil is taking advantage of the pandemic, Pope Francis said during Palm Sunday Mass in an almost empty St. Peter’s Basilica for the second consecutive year, The New York Post reports.
Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Holy Week and leads to Easter, is the most important day on the Christian calendar. Just 120 members of the faithful participated in Sunday’s Mass and about 30 cardinals in a secondary wing of the huge basilica.
Before coronavirus restrictions, tens of thousands of people would normally pack St. Peter’s Square. The rest of the pope’s services this week, including Holy Thursday and Good Friday, will also include a small number of the normal participants.
The Covid-19 outbreak erupted in Italy and the country became the epicenter of the European epidemic. The Pope in his traditional Sunday noon address after the Mass, said after a year under the virus, the pressure is growing.
“Last year we were shocked,” he said. “This year we are more under pressure and the economic crisis has become heavy” and the pandemic made it more important to take care of the poor and suffering.
“The devil is taking advantage of the crisis to sow distrust, desperation and discord,” he said, adding that the pandemic had brought physical, psychological and spiritual suffering.