Pope Francis on Friday issued a special video message calling on people around the world not to lose faith and to comfort each other through the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It is a hard moment for all of us. For many, very hard. The pope knows it, and through these words, he wants to express his closeness and affection to everyone,” he said, speaking in Italian.
He urged people “to make the best use of this time” by being “generous” and helping those in need, even by reaching out to the loneliest “via phone or social media”.
“Even if we are isolated, thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love,” Francis, the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, said.
He mentioned the elderly, the homeless, prisoners, bereaved families, those worried about losing their jobs and the “heroes” working in hospitals or providing essential services to societies.
The pope, who is 83, no longer appears in public due to the pandemic, and will lead Easter celebrations next week with no congregation – something unprecedented in modern times.
“We will celebrate Holy Week in a truly unusual way,” he said.
Easter, the most important Christian holiday, marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And faith “in the risen Jesus” should give people hope, the pontiff said.
“It is the hope for better times, in which we can be better ourselves, finally freed from evil and from this pandemic.
“It is a hope: hope does not disappoint, it is not an illusion,” Francis said.