Pope Stresses COVID Precautions, Doesn't Wear Mask at General Audience

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 28, 2020

Pope Francis on Tuesday October 20 (left) and at the general audience the next day (right)
Pope Francis on Tuesday October 20 (left) and at the general audience the next day (right)  (Source:AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Despite cautioning the Catholic faithful in attendance about the risks of COVID-19, Pope Francis and his aides did not wear masks at Wednesday's general audience, Reuters reports.

The Pope began proceedings by apologizing to the crowd, nearly all of whom were masked, for not being able to "come down and greet each of you." As the Pope reminded the crowd of the need to maintain physical distance, "most aides and translators on stage did not wear masks," nor did bishops and priests, all of whom "greeted the Pope close up and removed their masks as they approached him."

Recently, thirteen Swiss Guards — all of whom were masked on stage — and a resident in the Pope's guest house had tested positive for COVID-19. The Pope has been criticized on social media for his inconsistent usage of masks in public. For instance, during a prayer service lasting several hours on October 20, he only removed his face mask to lead a prayer. But a few days later, when meeting in his private library with the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, neither the Pope nor anyone else wore masks.

In the face of this apparent "do as I say, not as I do," Father Augustus Zampini, a member of the Vatican commission advising the Pope on the social impact of the pandemic, acknowledged the pontiff's inconsistent usage of masks and said, "we are trying to convince him, we are almost there."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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