Letter from Rome: Coronavirus über alles

As Covid-19 spreads throughout the world, the disease is dominating everything — even church affairs
Letter from Rome: Coronavirus über alles

People watch a screen showing a live broadcast of Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 8 after millions of people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)

When Pope Francis appeared in public on Ash Wednesday with what seemed to be at least a very bad cold, many people wondered, "Has he got it?"

"Coronavirus? There are a lot worse viruses to worry about in the Vatican," the 83-year-old pope supposedly quipped to a couple of nervous aides.

Whether he actually said that or if it's just an urban legend, the point is clear: Francis is not overly preoccupied about his health or his own mortality. In fact, he never has been. But many other people sure are. And when they saw him in a blustery St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience on the first day of Lent, they grew pensive.

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