ROME — The decision by Pope Francis to forgo wearing a mask has been noticed by a member of the Vatican’s coronavirus commission.
The Rev. Augusto Zampini acknowledged Tuesday the 83-year-old pope, who is missing part of a lung because of an illness in his youth, is at high risk for complications of the virus.
“He has started to use the mask now,” Zampini said. “And I hope he will use it in the general audiences, when he’s close to the people. When you’re in an open space, we know that it’s different. But we are working on that.”
Francis has courted some criticism for declining to wear a mask when indoors. Vatican regulations call for masks indoors and out when social distancing cannot be guaranteed.
On Saturday, the pope met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and neither they nor anyone in the Spanish delegation wore masks.
The photos caused a mild stir in Spain over the weekend. The prime minister’s office says the delegation was following Vatican protocol rules. The Vatican has declined to respond to questions about Francis and masks.