Coronavirus: Pope Francis spreads ‘message of hope’ ahead of Easter

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Pope Francis urged people to “not yield to fear” and focused on a “message of hope” as he led an Easter eve Mass in an empty St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic and called for an end to wars.

The vigil, which normally takes place in a church packed with about 10,000 people, was attended by only about two dozen, including a few altar servers and a smaller-than-usual choir. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, it was scaled back to eliminate several traditional features, such as the baptism of adult converts and a long procession up the main aisle of Christendom’s largest church.

Francis drew a comparison between the Gospel account of the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty on the day Christians believe he rose from the dead and the uncertain state of the world today because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Then too, there was fear about the future and all that would need to be rebuilt. A painful memory, a hope cut short. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour,” Francis said in his homily.

In countries around the world Catholics followed the papal service or Masses said by priests in their own empty churches and broadcast on television or over the internet.

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