Pope Francis while leading the Palm Sunday services in an almost empty St. Peter’s Basilica has revealed how the devil is taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Devil is taking advantage of the crisis to sow distrust, desperation, and discord,” he said, adding that the pandemic had brought physical, psychological, and spiritual suffering.
Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Holy Week and leads to Easter, usually attracts tens of thousands of people to St. Peter’s Square in a large outdoor ceremony. But all that has been halted due to the pandemic.
For the second consecutive year, the service took place in an almost empty St. Peter’s Basilica because of coronavirus restrictions.
Instead, only about 120 members of the faithful participated in Sunday’s Mass, joining the pope and about 30 cardinals in a secondary wing of the huge basilica.
In a small-scale version of a traditional Palm Sunday service, the 84-year-old pope and the cardinals processed to the altar holding palm fronds.
Palm Sunday commemorates the day the gospels say Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was hailed by the people, only to be crucified five days later.
The remainder of the pope’s Holy Week services – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter next Sunday will also take place with a limited number of participants.