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UN chief says pandemic should inspire ‘new unity and solidarity’

Vatican City, May 26, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday that the world needs a response to the coronavirus pandemic based on the protection of human dignity and human rights.

“The pandemic should be a wake-up call,” Guterres said in a May 26 interview with Vatican News. “Deadly global threats require a new unity and solidarity.”

“From the very beginning of this crisis, I have been advocating for solidarity within societies and among countries. Our response must be based on human rights and human dignity,” the UN leader said.

Guterres has led the international organization since 2017. He served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and as U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. 

In December, Guterres, a Catholic, recorded a video message with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The two leaders urged the importance of religious freedom, human dignity, and environmental protection.

At the end of March, the secretary-general called for a global ceasefire so that countries could focus on combating the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

He said his ceasefire message was simple: “fighting needs to stop so that we can focus on our shared enemy – COVID-19.”

In his interview, Guterres noted his appreciation of Pope Francis for his support for the global ceasefire appeal and the work of the UN.

“His global engagement, compassion and calls for unity reaffirm the core values that guide our work: to reduce human suffering and promote human dignity,” he said.

Guterres explained that 115 governments and more than 200 civil society groups have endorsed the appeal, and 16 armed groups have pledged to end violence, but “mistrust remains high, and it is difficult to turn these commitments into actions that make a difference in the lives of those impacted by conflict.”

The organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said last week that Yemen, in the midst of a civil war, is also on the brink of a coronavirus “catastrophe.” 

“What we are seeing in our treatment centre is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of people infected and dying in [Aden],” according to Caroline Seguin, MSF’s operations manager for Yemen.

“The United Nations and donor states need to do more and do it urgently, not just for Aden but for the whole of Yemen,” Seguin said.

The secretary-general said he was also concerned about “peace in the home.”

“Across the globe, as the pandemic spreads, we are also witnessing an alarming increase in violence against women and girls,” he pointed out.

Guterres said he had launched an appeal to mobilize better protection for women and asked religious leaders “to unequivocally condemn all acts of violence against women and girls and to uphold the bedrock principles of equality.”

The coronavirus pandemic is also exposing inequalities everywhere, he underlined, including economic disparity and unequal access to health care. 

“Poverty could rise by 500 million people -- the first increase in three decades,” he stated, adding that this is why he is advocating for a global relief package amounting to at least 10% of the global economy.

Guterres also said that it is important that any COVID-19 treatments found or developed -- including a vaccine -- be safe and available to everyone.

“In an interconnected world, none of us is safe until all of us are safe,” he said. “This vaccine needs to be the people’s vaccine.”

In the interview, the secretary general also said religious leaders have a “crucial role to play” during the pandemic in promoting mutual respect within their communities.

“They are well-positioned to challenge inaccurate and harmful messages, and encourage all communities to promote non-violence and reject xenophobia, racism and all forms of intolerance,” he said.

Religious leaders can leverage their networks “to support governments in promoting public health measures recommended by the World Health Organization,” he said, and “to dispel false information and rumors.”

Pope Francis to return to window overlooking St. Peter’s Square for Sunday prayer

Vatican City, May 26, 2020 / 09:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis will deliver his Regina Coeli address from the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square this Sunday for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were imposed in March.

In a statement Tuesday, the Holy See press office said that on May 31 the pope would recite the Regina Coeli with pilgrims gathered in the square below.

“The police will guarantee safe access to the square and will ensure that the faithful present can respect the necessary interpersonal distance,” the statement said May 26.

Traditionally, the pope leads the Sunday Angelus -- and the Regina Coeli, between Easter Sunday and Pentecost -- from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

But from March 8 onwards, Pope Francis delivered his address via videolink from the library of the Apostolic Palace, and offered a blessing from the window above an empty St. Peter’s Square.

People were allowed in St. Peter’s Square for the pope’s Sunday blessing for the first time in more than 10 weeks May 24 after Italy significantly loosened its coronavirus restrictions. 

Each person who entered the square was required to wear a face mask and security enforced social distancing for the people gathered outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, which reopened to the public May 18.

 

For the first time in over 10 weeks, Catholics were able to be present in St. Peter’s Square to receive a blessing from Pope Francis. ???

And they were pretty excited about it! pic.twitter.com/dQx7yGk5p8

— Courtney Mares (@catholicourtney) May 24, 2020  

The Holy See press office said that before this Sunday’s Regina Coeli the pope would celebrate a Pentecost Mass, without the presence of the people, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The pope is scheduled to deliver his general audience address this Wednesday from the Apostolic Palace library. It will be livestreamed on the Vatican News website.
 

In letter, Pope Francis asks for prayers for mothers facing the post-pandemic world

Vatican City, May 26, 2020 / 08:45 am (CNA).- In a letter to an Italian journalist Monday, Pope Francis said we should pray for mothers to have courage as they face the challenges of the post-coronavirus world.

“The question of every mother resounds in the heart: ‘What world will my child live in?’” the pope wrote.

“Let us pray for them, so that the Lord may give them the courage to accompany their children with the trust that it will certainly be a different world, but it will always be a world loved very much by the Lord.”

Pope Francis spoke about mothers in a letter sent May 25 to journalist Nina Fabrizio, author of the book “Francesco, il Papa delle Donne” (Francis: the Pope of Women).

The book describes Pope Francis’ connections with women from German chancellor Angela Merkel to women living on the streets, as well as his various writings and speeches to women and about issues related to womanhood.

The author gave Pope Francis a copy of the book, together with a letter and some reporting she did on the fears and challenges facing pregnant mothers during the coronavirus crisis.

Pope Francis thanked Fabrizio for the book and articles and noted that they had helped him to better understand “the feeling of women awaiting childbirth” during the pandemic.

He said that “today, motherhood is demeaned, because the only growth which interests us is economic growth.”

“There are mothers who risk arduous journeys to desperately try to give a better future to their offspring,” the pope said, noting that mothers are often judged by people “with full stomachs” but “hearts empty of love.”

Fabrizio told CNA she was pleased Pope Francis brought up the issue of motherhood being demeaned, since it was not something she addressed in the book. His message is “somewhat strong,” she said.

Pope Francis, Catholic shrines to offer rosary for Mary’s help during pandemic

Vatican City, May 25, 2020 / 10:04 am (CNA).- Pope Francis will pray the rosary in the Vatican Gardens’ Lourdes grotto on Saturday, as Catholic shrines from around the world join via video streaming.

The intention of the worldwide rosary is for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s help and solace during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a letter sent to shrine rectors by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the livestreamed prayer will take place at 5:30 p.m. Rome time on May 30.

Catholic shrines have been asked to participate by holding their own recitation of the rosary, in accordance with local health measures, at the same time as the Rome event and to promote the initiative.

They have also been asked, if possible, to provide satellite or streaming connections with the Vatican’s television center so that video footage of the rosary at the different shrines can be shared during Pope Francis’ livestream.

During the coronavirus emergency, many Catholic shrines have had to close to the public, including the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, which only partially reopened to pilgrims May 16.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal has also been closed and the May 13 anniversary of the 1917 Marian apparitions were celebrated without the presence of the public for the first time in its history due to the pandemic.

The rosary with Pope Francis is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which in its letter to rectors paraphrased the Acts of the Apostles 1:14: “All joined together constantly in prayer, along [with] Mary.”

“In light of the emergency situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic that has caused the stoppage of the normal activity of all Shrines and the interruption of all pilgrimages, Pope Francis wishes to express a gesture of closeness to each of you with the recitation of the Holy Rosary,” Archbishop Fisichella wrote.

Shrines which will participate in the rosary May 30 include the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and the shrines of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira, Our Lady of Lujan, and the Virgin of Milagro.

From Europe, there will be the Shrines of Our Lady of Częstochowa, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, San Giovanni Rotondo, and Our Lady of Pompei.

The National Pilgrimage Centre of Elele in Nigeria and the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace in Ivory Coast will join from Africa.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has been responsible for Catholic shrines since 2017.

Globally, there have been more than 5.4 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with more than 340,000 recorded deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
 
 

This story was updated with participating shrines at 2:24 am MT May 26, 2020.

Archbishop Ganswein: ‘Our times require courageous and convincing testimonies’

CNA Staff, May 25, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Archbishop Georg Ganswein has spent most of the last two decades standing next to the person with the microphone, in his service as an aide to both Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. But a new book collects the wisdom of Ganswein himself, and aims to call Catholics to evangelization, and to joy.

“If you would like to have three key words, here they are: Evangelization. Testimony. Joy,” Ganswein said of the book, “How the Catholic Church Can Restore Our Culture.”

The book is a collection of interviews, homilies, and essays written and delivered by Ganswein. It was published in English April 15 by EWTN Publishing. 

“The Gospel does not change according to the times, it is revealed by Christ if we seek to proclaim and live according to Him ‘in season and out of season,’ in the words of St. Paul,” Ganswein explained in an interview with ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner.

Ganswein, 63, has had a front row seat to the leadership of the universal Church since 2005. In that year, his boss, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, became Pope Benedict XVI.

Ganswein was then serving as Ratzinger’s private secretary, and continued in that role as Benedict took up the papacy. He was Benedict’s closest aide, and in 2012 became prefect of the pontifical household, overseeing the clergy and staff closest to the pope. When Francis was elected pope in 2013, Ganswein kept that role, while also continuing to serve as private secretary to the former pope.

But Ganswein’s book does not focus on his Vatican service. Instead, it focuses on a call for Catholics to live faithfully and joyfully in the communion of the Church.

“I wanted to convey that a mere intellectual knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures or the Catholic faith does not bring any fruit. It remains a fruitless knowledge if it is not ‘incarnated’ in our personal life,” the archbishop told ACI Stampa.
 
“We learn our faith like we learn to swim: not reading a manual, but actually swimming. So the faith becomes flesh, becomes a concrete reality by living it. Once upon a time there was a catechumenate, that is, a time in which people were introduced in a concrete way to the Christian life and doctrine. They would move forward step by step, gradually growing, becoming stronger, and thus, by living the faith, they would discover the beauty of the Christian message. Either faith is lived or is dead.”

The book, the archbishop explained, began with “an invitation from a German publisher to publish some texts of my ‘pastoral’ activity in the last years. I happily accepted and sent the publisher, as you have observed, a collection of conferences, homilies and interviews. From this collection, the expert eye of the editor has chosen the writings published in the present book.”

“Our times require courageous and convincing testimonies. Testimonies are a source of joy, great and strong joy. This is how the Church will have a future! I wanted to remind readers not to forget this simple but fundamental fact,” the archbishop added.

Pope Francis remembers 25 years of 'Ut unum sint,' John Paul II's letter on ecumenism

Vatican City, May 25, 2020 / 05:48 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday remembered Ut unum sint, St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on ecumenism, on the 25th anniversary of its publication.

Ut unum sint “confirmed ‘irrevocably’ the ecumenical commitment of the Catholic Church,” the pope said May 25.

In a letter to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Francis said St. John Paul II “desired that the Church, on her journey towards the third millennium, should be ever mindful of the heartfelt prayer of her Teacher and Lord ‘that all may be one.’”

The encyclical Ut unum sint was published on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, May 25, 1995, “placing it under the sign of the Holy Spirit, the creator of unity in diversity,” Pope Francis noted.

“In that same liturgical and spiritual context, we now commemorate it, and propose it once more to the People of God,” he added.

In his letter, the pope quoted Ut unum sint, saying it reaffirmed that “legitimate diversity is in no way opposed to the Church’s unity, but rather enhances her splendor and contributes greatly to the fulfilment of her mission.”

“Indeed, ‘only the Holy Spirit is able to kindle diversity, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity… It is he who brings harmony to the Church,’” he continued quoting.

Pope Francis said, “one thing is certain: unity is not chiefly the result of our activity, but a gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“On this anniversary, I give thanks to the Lord for the journey he has allowed us to travel as Christians in quest of full communion.”

“I too share the healthy impatience of those who sometimes think that we can and should do more,” he stated. “Yet we should not be lacking in faith and gratitude: many steps have been taken in these decades to heal the wounds of centuries and millennia.”

He explained that in this time mutual knowledge and esteem have grown, helping to overcome prejudice, and that theological dialogue has developed.

Speaking about the leaders of the different Christian churches and communities, he prayed that “like the disciples of Emmaus, may we experience the presence of the risen Christ who walks at our side and explains the Scriptures to us. May we recognize him in the breaking of the bread, as we await the day when we shall share the Eucharistic table together.”

In his letter, the pope also expressed his gratitude for those working in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity who keep the “awareness of this irrevocable goal alive in the Church.”

He also highlighted two new initiatives of the office: the Acta Œcumenica journal and an ecumenical vademecum for bishops, to be published in the fall “as an encouragement and guide for the exercise of their ecumenical responsibilities.”

“With confidence, then, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and to enable everyone to hear the call to work for the cause of ecumenism with renewed vigor,” he urged.

“May the Spirit inspire new prophetic gestures and strengthen fraternal charity among all Christ’s disciples, ‘that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21), to the ever greater praise of our Father in heaven.”

Pope Francis entrusts China to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Vatican City, May 24, 2020 / 05:45 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Sunday entrusted China to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and asked people to pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the most populated country in the world.

“Dear Catholic brothers and sisters in China, I wish to assure you that the universal Church, of which you are an integral part, shares your hopes and supports you in trials,” Pope Francis said May 24 after the Regina Caeli prayer.

“It accompanies you with prayer for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that the light and beauty of the Gospel, the power of God for the salvation of whoever believes, can shine in you,” the pope said.

Pope Francis imparted a special Apostolic Blessing upon China for the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians. The Marian shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, which is dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians, remains closed on this feast after the Diocese of Shanghai suspended all pilgrimages for the month of May to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We entrust the pastors and faithful of the Catholic Church in that great country to the guidance and protection of our Heavenly Mother, so that they may be strong in faith and firm in fraternal union, joyful witnesses and promoters of charity and fraternal hope, and good citizens,” Pope Francis said.

“May Our Lady always guard you!” he added.

In his Regina Caeli address, the pope reflected on the words of Jesus recorded in Gospel of Matthew for the feast of the Ascension of the Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

China is home to more than 10 million Catholics, with six million registered as members of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, according to official statistics.

The Holy See and the Chinese government signed a provisional agreement in 2018 on the appointment of bishops in the state-sponsored Church, the terms of which have still not been publicly released. In the wake of the deal, previously excommunicated bishops of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is overseen by the Communist Party, were received into full communion with the Vatican.

A report published in 2020 by the U.S. China Commission found that Chinese Catholics suffered “increasing persecution” after the Vatican-China deal. It said the government was “demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy.” Priests and bishops have reportedly been detained or have gone into hiding.

Earlier this week, the Vatican revealed that Catholics in China were able to use the most popular Chinese state-monitored social media platform, WeChat, to livestream Pope Francis’ daily Mass during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is unclear whether Catholics in China were also able to watch the livestream of this Sunday Marian prayer for their country on WeChat due to the heavy censorship of all Chinese online media.

 

我们把在中国的弟兄姊妹託付于我们天上的母亲引领及庇佑,愿他们信德坚毅,巩固友爱团结,喜乐地见证并促进爱德与望德。

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 24, 2020  

Pope Benedict XVI established the custom of praying for China on the Marian feast of Our Lady Help of Christians in 2007, and composed a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan for the occasion.

Pope Francis entrusted to the intercession of Mary Help of Christians all Christian disciples and people of good will who are working for peace, dialogue between nations, service to the poor, and the custody of creation.

The pope also marked the fifth anniversary of publication of his environmental encyclical, Laudato si’. He said that he wrote Laudato si’ to “draw attention to the cry of the Earth and the poor.”

Pope Francis spoke during his Regina Caeli address via livestream video recorded in the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. However, for the first time in more than 10 weeks, people were allowed to be present in St. Peter’s Square when the pope appeared in the window to give a blessing.

Each person who entered the square was required to wear a face mask and security enforced social distancing for the people gathered outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, which reopened to the public on May 18.

After more than 5 million people around the world have been documented with COVID-19, the pope asked Our Lady Help of Christians to intercede “for the victory of humanity over every disease of the body, heart, and soul.”

“The feast of Ascension tells us that Jesus, although he ascended into Heaven to dwell gloriously on the right hand of the Father, is still and always among us for us to derive strength, perseverance, and our joy,” Pope Francis said.

Vatican Museums will reopen June 1 as Italy opens borders to tourists

Vatican City, May 23, 2020 / 08:35 am (CNA).- The Vatican Museums announced Saturday that it will reopen on June 1, two days before Italy opens its borders to European visitors after nearly three months of lockdown.

Entrance to the Vatican Museums will only be possible via prior reservation to limit the number of people in the museum and stagger entrance times. All visitors will be required to wear a mask, and mandatory temperature checks will be conducted at the entrance.

To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, group visits to the museums will be capped at a maximum of 10 people.

The Vatican Museums will have been closed for 12 weeks since the Italian government announced the closure of all museums and archaeological sites throughout the country on March 8.

Throughout Italy’s lockdown, the Vatican Museums maintained only essential services requiring about 30 employees. The museums employ nearly 1,000 people, among them are administrators, restorers, art historians, and ticket agents.

The Italian government has announced that Italy will open its regional and international borders on June 3, allowing tourists from the European Union to visit Italy without being subjected to a quarantine requirement.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that this will create the conditions to help Italy’s tourism industry to recover.

The Vatican Museums receive millions of visitors each year, and generated around $87 million annually as of 2015, half of which was surplus revenue for Vatican City, according to the Economist. In the months that the museums have been closed due to the pandemic, Vatican City has likely lost millions of dollars in revenue.

Due to the travel restrictions, the first visitors to the reopened Vatican Museums on June 1 will likely be local Romans, rather than the usual tourists.

To accommodate local visitors, the museums have extended their hours to encourage afternoon and evening visits, especially over the weekend.

The museums will be open Monday through Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. each day. On Friday and Saturday the museums and gardens will stay open until 10 p.m. with an optional cocktail hour in the courtyard.

The Vatican Museums have also added an open-bus tour of the Vatican Gardens.

“I would like this moment of difficulty to turn into an opportunity,” Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga said in an interview published by L’Osservatore Romano.

The museum and gardens at the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo will also be reopening on June 6 with additional safety measures.

Vergez, the general secretary of Vatican City State, encouraged Italian families to visit the museums and the gardens.

“The weekend … could become an ideal opportunity to seize the extraordinary opportunity to visit the summer residence of the popes and the splendid Gardens of Villa Barberini. The hot and beautiful sun of these days seems to invite us to this!” Vergez said.

Pope Francis appoints new archbishop for Taiwan’s capital

Vatican City, May 23, 2020 / 07:05 am (CNA).- Pope Francis appointed Saturday Bishop Thomas An-Zu Chung as the next Metropolitan Archbishop of Taipei, Taiwan.

Chung, who currently serves as bishop of Chiayi, Taiwan, will replace Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan, who has retired at the age of 76.

The Holy See is the only remaining country in Europe that recognizes Taiwan as a country. The Holy See and Taiwan have had formal diplomatic relations for 77 years. However, the nunciature in Taipei has not been led by a nuncio since Oct. 25, 1971, when the United Nations ceased to recognize the Taipei-based government as the government of China.

The pope also appointed Chung to serve as the apostolic administrator of the Matzu Islands, an archipelago of 36 islands in the East China Sea, and the Kinmen Islands, which are located under four miles from the mainland People’s Republic of China.

Chung, 67, was born in Yunlin, Taiwan, and ordained a priest in Tainan at the age of 29. Pope Benedict XVI first appointed him as a bishop in 2006. He served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Taipei from 2006 to 2008 before he was named Bishop of Chiayi.

As Metropolitan Archbishop of Taipei, Chung will oversee the largest city on the island of Taiwan with a population of 7.4 million people. The title of “metropolitan bishop” refers to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis, namely, the primary city of an ecclesiastical province or regional capital.

The Holy See has recognized the Taiwanese government, officially known as the Republic of China, since 1942. The Vatican does not have formal diplomatic relations with the government of the People’s Republic of China, which consolidated control of the mainland at the conclusion of a civil war in 1949.

The split between China and Taiwan dates back to 1949, following the communist military success in China’s civil war that led Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalist forces to retreat to the island.

The Holy See and the Chinese government signed a provisional agreement in 2018 on the appointment of bishops in the state-sponsored Church, the terms of which have still not been publicly released. In the wake of the deal, previously excommunicated bishops of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), which is overseen by the Communist Party, were received into full communion with the Vatican.

In Taiwan’s recent bid to participate in World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly meetings during the coronavirus pandemic, the Holy See was the only diplomatic ally of Taiwan which did not make an appeal to allow Taiwan to participate, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who told the Taipei Times on May 15 that the Vatican would voice its support for Taiwan through other methods.

The Embassy of Taiwan to the Holy See donated 280,000 surgical face masks to the Vatican and the bishops of Italy in April.

Pope Francis also appointed a new metropolitan archbishop of La Paz, Bolivia on May 23. The pope named Bishop Percy Lorenzo Galván Flores of Corocoro to follow Archbishop Edmundo Luis Flavio Abastoflor Montero.

There are more than 550 metropolitan archdioceses worldwide.

Around the globe, Catholics hope papal Mass online will continue

Rome Newsroom, May 21, 2020 / 10:45 am (CNA).- After the Vatican stopped livestreaming Pope Francis’ daily Masses this week, Catholics from around the world have urged the pope to resume the broadcast.

The pope’s Mass livestream ended May 18, the day dioceses throughout Italy were able to resume public Masses. But many Catholics in other countries remain without access to the Mass. 

This is the case for the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Nairobi, Kenya, where a lockdown has been extended until June 6 closing all places of public worship.

Sister Mary Anne Williamson wrote a letter on behalf of her religious community, asking if the Pope Francis’ live Mass broadcast could be reinstated. She told CNA that the sisters were “dismayed” when they learned that the broadcast of the pope’s Mass would be discontinued.

“When our churches closed about eight weeks ago, we began to have a Liturgy of the Word in our chapel. But then we heard that our sisters in our general house in Rome, also locked down, were celebrating with the Mass of the Holy Father from their house. We found EWTN on our TV channel server Zuku and began to join at 8 a.m. Nairobi time,” she said.

The sisters gathered together to watch the pope’s Mass after morning prayer in their chapel. Williamson said the missionary sisters found it meaningful to pray in this way in union with the pope and Christians throughout the world.

“We really appreciated the Holy Father's homily and the translations done by Sister Bernadette,” she said. “We also appreciated the moments of Eucharistic adoration at the end of the morning Mass at Santa Marta.”

“We know that the Mass of Pope Francis was appreciated by others and probably many around the world. We will continue to hope that Vatican Media will be able to broadcast again.”

While some countries in Europe are easing their lockdowns, Catholics in India, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, England, Switzerland, and other countries remain without access to public Mass. In Ireland, churches are not expected to reopen until July. 

Pope Francis first began streaming his morning Mass from the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, his Vatican City residence, on March 9, the day after dioceses across Italy suspended public Masses following a government ordinance. The Vatican spokesman said the livestream was being offered to “to allow those who wish to follow the celebrations in union of prayer with the Bishop of Rome.”

At the beginning of Mass each day, the pope offered a different prayer intention, often related to the suffering inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Announcing the end of the pope’s Mass livestreams, the Vatican spokesman said: “The Pope wishes that the People of God could thus return to communal familiarity with the Lord in the sacraments, participating in the Sunday liturgy and resuming, also in churches, the daily visitation of the Lord and his Word.”

An ACI Prensa article reporting on the conclusion of the daily Mass broadcast from the Vatican received more than 1,900 comments on social media, with people expressing gratitude for the livestream and asking why it was being canceled when dioceses in parts of Latin America are still under lockdown. 

“Thank you very much, Holy Father, but I hope you consider it for the countries of Mexico and America that we remain quarantined and it is very valuable to vibrate with your presence and guidance. May the Lord bless you and be with you always,” Carmen Vazquez wrote in Spanish.

From Costa Rica, Sandra Fernandez Es wrote: “It is a great loss, how sad. I had already become used to watching it in the very early morning, and it was very good for me.”

“I came to think I was the only one who would miss Mass with the Pope. In Puerto Rico, we are still quarantined,” said Iris Lugo.

Mary Grenada wrote from Argentina: “Too bad!!! It was very important for us every day to have mass at home. I hope they send our request to continue to the Pope. Thank you!!! From Argentina.”

Catherine Addington wrote on Twitter on May 19 : “I miss the @Pontifex daily Mass livestream.”

 

I miss the @Pontifex daily Mass livestream ?

— Catherine Addington (@caddington11) May 19, 2020  

Vatican News reported May 20 that thousands of people in China had watched a translated livestream of the pope’s Mass via WeChat and that the news that the live broadcast would be ending was “greeted with some suffering and also with some tears.”

Vatican News said that it had received messages from thousands of people expressing appreciation for the pope’s Mass livestream during the pandemic.

Sister Mary Anne told CNA that she believes that even in places where churches are reopened, like Italy, the homebound and other Catholics would likely appreciate the opportunity to view the pope’s Masses and hear his homilies.

She said that during quarantine the sisters in Kenya had been teaching students using Zoom, but internet and electricity cuts to some students’ homes made it challenging. 

“We know we are among the fortunate ones with a chapel, internet access, food and shelter. Our life of prayer and work can continue, although in new ways,” she said. “Our days, especially our Eucharistic adoration in turns, are offered for our suffering world and the end of this pandemic.”

As public Masses resume in some parts of the world, parishes will also be deciding whether to continue the Mass livestreams that they offered during the pandemic. 

Fr. Gregory Apparcel, rector of St. Patrick’s Church, Rome’s English-speaking parish, told CNA that the parish livestream had gained a much wider audience than he had expected.

“We also have many, many people participating in these Masses from the U.S. and other countries where public Masses are not yet available. And, also from many people who are homebound for many other reasons,” he said.

The priest said he had received requests to continue the Masses despite the lockdown’s end.

“They hope that we will continue to do this, which we will try to do throughout the summer, and beyond if necessary,” he said.

“It has opened up a new ministry that we never thought we needed to do.”