|POPE FRANCIS during his weekly General Audience in Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican.(File photo by=Evandro Inetti/Zuma Press/PA)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Pope Francis on Wednesday (Oct 28) described the COVID-19 pandemic as a tough "lady" taskmaster who must be obeyed, but he and most close aides didn’t wear masks at his general audience.
At the start of the indoor audience, Francis apologized to people for not coming down from the marble stage. "I will stay up here. I would very much like to come down and greet each of you but we have to keep our distance," he said to the crowd of several hundred, nearly all wearing masks. "If I come down, immediately people will form groups ... and this is against the care, the precautions, we must have in the face of this lady named COVID, who is doing us much harm," he said.
The pope and most aides and translators on the stage didn’t wear masks. Swiss Guards and official photographers on the stage wore masks but bishops and priests who greeted the pope close up removed their masks as they approached him. Thirteen Swiss Guards and a resident of the guest house where the pope lives have tested positive for COVID-19. The pope, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness when he was a young man, was criticized, mostly on social media, for not always wearing a mask in public.