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Letter from Rome: The pope's irresponsible behavior

Pope Francis has ignored a new Vatican decree on the mandatory use of face masks

Letter from Rome: The pope's irresponsible behavior

A worshipper wearing a face mask takes a selfie with Pope Francis as he holds a limited public audience inside Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on Oct. 7. (Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP)

The Governorate of Vatican City last week made it "obligatory" for "every individual" to wear a face mask inside the offices and buildings of the tiny city-state and its extraterritorial areas, including when outdoors.

But the very next day Pope Francis held his Wednesday general audience inside the Paul VI Hall and he was not wearing a mask. And neither were most of his aides or secretaries despite the fact that the Governorate stated clearly that the new "norm must be constantly respected."

It further said that the Vatican health services, "even through the help of the gendarmerie," would enforce compliance. Representatives of the health and security departments were in the hall for the Oct. 7 general audience. But since the pope was one of the "individuals" flouting the norm, there was precious little they could do — except react with the same disbelief and deep concern that many other people did who witnessed this irresponsible behavior.

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