Pope Francis to Lead Christians in Worldwide COVID Prayer Service

The Vatican is inviting Christians around the world to join Pope Francis in prayer against the coronavirus pandemic as some workers in Vatican City complain they are being discouraged from working from home. A church tweet says Francis will conduct his prayer service Wednesday at 1100 UTC.  Vatican officials have confirmed at least four coronavirus cases so far.  Although the church has said it is encouraging people TO work from what it calls “remote locations,” the Associated Press reports that workers in three different Vatican offices complain they have been told to show up in person from two to five days a week.  The offices include one that is said to handle sensitive church matters from which officials fear documents could disappear if the office is short-staffed. Another office, the so-called Propaganda Office, oversees the church’s work in developing countries.  “The whole of Italy closes down but not so the Vatican, at least not Propaganda Fide,” one commuter’s wife posted on Facebook. “It is dangerous, moving between cities, trains, metro and buses. I cannot believe that this is actually happening!” While church officials have yet to respond to such grievances, they again said that while Vatican offices will stay open, department heads should make sure “essential services”  are carried out with minimal staff while “incentivizing as much as possible remote working.” Pope Francis says he feels like he’s living in a “cage,” avoiding contact with the faithful and conducting video services instead of greeting pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square.  Some Catholic churches around the world still remain open despite the risks posed by congregations gathering in close contact during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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