Vatican City, Oct 26, 2020 / 10:13 am
Pope Francis' Christmas liturgies at the Vatican will be offered without public participation this year, as countries continue to react to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a letter seen by CNA which was sent by the Secretariat of State to embassies accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis will celebrate the Vatican liturgies of the Christmas season "in a private form without the presence of members of the diplomatic Corps."
The letter, which was sent by the section for general affairs Oct. 22, said the liturgies will be streamed online. Diplomats accredited to the Holy See usually attend papal liturgies as special guests.
Due to pandemic measures, including a two month nation-wide lockdown of Italy, Pope Francis also offered the 2020 Easter liturgies without the presence of the public.
Italy has seen a dramatic increase in positive coronavirus cases, as well as increased hospitalizations and deaths, in recent weeks, leading the government to issue new containment measures, including the full closure of gyms and theaters, and a 6pm closure for bars and restaurants except for takeout. Parties and receptions are also suspended. Since earlier this month, it has been mandated to wear face masks at all times in public, including outside.
During Advent and Easter, the pope's schedule of public liturgies and Masses is usually particularly full, with thousands participating in Masses at St. Peter's Basilica.
In past years the pope has offered a Dec. 12 Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a Dec. 8 ceremony and prayer at Rome's Piazza di Spagna for feast of the Immaculate Conception.
According to the 2020 schedule of public papal events published on the Vatican website, instead of a Mass Dec. 8, the pope will lead the Angelus in St. Peter's Square to mark the day.