Coronavirus postpones pope's global economic summit

CNA 5e5766acb6459 183748 1 Pilgrims stand in St. Peter's Square before the Wednesday general audience on Feb. 26, 2020. | Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Pope Francis' international economic summit, "The Economy of Francesco," has been postponed until November due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

The three-day conference, named for St. Francis and scheduled to meet in Assisi, was planned to take place March 26-28 with 2,000 economists and entrepreneurs traveling from 115 countries. Pope Francis was set to address the summit, as were Nobel lauraetes Amartya Sen and Muhammad Yunus.

The organizing committee announced March 1 its decision to postpone "Economy of Francesco"  until Nov. 21 due to the "difficulty that so many young people are currently having when traveling internationally and nationally."

Delta, American, British Airways, and EasyJet have all suspended or reduced flights to and from Milan, Italy due to the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.

Since Feb. 27, Pope Francis, 83, has canceled public appearances and events, including his Lenten retreat with the Roman Curia taking place March 1-6, due to a cold. The pope's next scheduled public audience is the Angelus prayer on March 8.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the travel warning for Italy to a level three on Feb. 28, advising people to avoid non-essential travel to the country due to the spread of Covid-19.  On the same day, the U.S. State Department issued a "Level 4: Do Not Travel" advisory Feb. 28 for the Italian regions of surrounding Milan and Venice.

Italian health authorities have reported 1,835 cases of the novel coronavirus, mostly in the northern regions surrounding Milan, Bologna, and Venice. More than 200 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours. So far, 52 people are reported to have died from the disease in Italy.

Nearly 800 of the people with novel coronavirus in Italy are being treated at home, while 140 are in intensive care.

The Vatican has implemented special health measures and postponed events in compliance with the provision of Italian authorities due to the outbreak.

A conference schedule to take place March 5-6 at the Pontifical Gregorian University on the opening of Vatican archives of Pope Pius XII has been postponed, as has a March 2-7 communications workshop at the Pontifical Urbaniana University for global representatives of the Pontifical Missions Societies.

Pope Francis first announced the "Economy of Francesco" in May 2019, stating: "We need to correct models of growth incapable of guaranteeing respect for the environment, openness to life, concern for the family, social equality, the dignity of workers and the rights of future generations."

When the 2,000 economists and entrepreneurs meet the pope in Assisi in November, they may have a new topic to analyze together: the effect of the coronavirus on the global economy.

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