Pope Francis begged world leaders on Saturday to act wisely and generously to provide social and economic relief for the many workers who have lost jobs, and called for the enormous sums of money used to grow and perfect armaments be instead used to fund research to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.
Francis was joined in the Vatican Gardens by a sampling of people on the front lines of the emergency: a doctor, a nurse, a hospital chaplain, a pharmacist, a journalist and a civil protection official.
A recovered Covid-19 patient, a person with a relative who died during Italys outbreak, and the parents of a baby born during the emergency also were among the pope’s more than 100 guests for the prayer.
They sat spaced far apart, and most wore protective masks. Francis didn’t.
He noted that many virus victims died alone due to hospitals needing to prohibit visitors and that the dead were buried sometimes in a way that wounds the soul.
The prayer service, held on a cool evening in the Vatican Gardens, marked Francis biggest gathering to date since the Vatican followed Italy in locking down in March to prevent virus infections.