Pope Francis urges priests to tend to sick, prays for health care workers

Pope Francis celebrates daily Mass on March 9 in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta in Rome without attendants. Photo: Vatican Media/CNA

Pope Francis prayed that priests would find the courage to visit those who are sick during the coronavirus epidemic, while also keeping themselves and others safe.

During a live broadcast of his daily morning Mass, the pope again prayed for the many people who have fallen ill because of the virus and for health care workers.

“Let us also pray to the Lord for our priests, so that they may have the courage to go out to those who are sick, bringing them the strength of the Word of God and the Eucharist and to accompany health care workers and volunteers in the work they are doing,” he said March 10 at the start of Mass in the chapel of his Santa Marta residence.

His appeal clearly understood the need for priests to do so “while respecting the health measures established by Italian authorities,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press hall told reporters in a written response to questions.

The pope is also entrusting the city of Rome, Italy, and the world to the protection of Our Lady during this time of a major health emergency, Bruni said in an earlier note.

The Italian government issued a late-night measure March 9 to all of Italy, urging people to stay at home and avoid all unessential travel as part of already implemented plans to prevent the further spread of the virus.

The move came as Italy became the nation with the second-highest number of deaths related to the coronavirus and the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world.

More than 10,00 people had been infected in Italy as of March 11, according to the World Health Organization. The virus had already claimed the lives of 631 people there, the Italian health ministry said.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass each morning with a small group of people. Church officials said the daily liturgies were being broadcast live on Vatican News and the Vatican’s YouTube channel to help people be united in prayer with the pope.

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