VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis cheerfully greeted people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, as he resumed his practice of speaking to the faithful there for the first time since a coronavirus lockdown began in Italy and at the Vatican in early March.
“Today the square is open, we can return to it with pleasure,’’ Francis said.
Instead of the tens of thousands of people who might have turned out on a similarly brilliantly sunny day like in pre-pandemic times, perhaps a few hundred came to the square on Sunday, standing well apart from others or in small family groups.
Until June 3, people aren’t allowed to travel between regions in Italy or arrive from abroad for tourism, so the people in the square came from Rome or places in the region.
Francis cited those who have been infected by the virus or who died in the Amazon region, especially the “particularly vulnerable” indigenous people. He prayed that no one in the world lack medical assistance, especially due to economic priorities.
“Persons are more important than the economy,” Francis said.
Noting this was the first time he could greet people in the square for weeks, Francis said that “one doesn’t emerge from a crisis the same. You either come out better or you come out worse.” He said he’d be back to greet them next Sunday in the same place at noon, smiling and pointing down to the vast square far below his studio window.