Coronavirus: Catholic churches resume public mass in Italy after two months
Pope Francis inaugurated the full reopening of St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday and Catholic churches held public Masses for the first time in two months in the latest easing of Italy’s coronavirus restrictions.
Francis said a private Mass in a side chapel where St. John Paul II is buried to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the late Polish pope’s birth.
The basilica, which on Friday underwent a sanitizing to make it as coronavirus-free as possible, later opened to the public for Masses by priests on other side altars after the pope had left.
Signs in English and Italian told those entering that they had to keep at least 1.5 meters (five feet) apart, wear masks and sanitize their hands.
Churches throughout Italy began holding Masses under strict new guidelines worked out between the country’s bishops and government.
The faithful will have to wear masks. Priests can celebrate most of the Mass without masks but they will have to wear one, as well as gloves, when they distribute the communion wafer. The communion is to be given in the hand and not the mouth.
On Sunday, the pope urged Italian to observe the new norms “in order to defend each other’s health and the health of the people.”