At the beginning of the year, Pope Francis called on people to care for one another and to give each other time. Because of a sciatica, he had himself represented at mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and his sermon read out.
The Catholic Church has welcomed the New Year with a festive mass in the Vatican. Due to the Corona requirements, only about 100 believers and two dozen cardinals took part in the celebration in St. Cardinal State Secretary Pietro Parolin held the service on behalf of Pope Francis, who had decided not to attend due to a sciatica.
In his read-out sermon, the head of the church called on people to find time especially for the lonely and the suffering. Regarding the new medical possibilities in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pope said: “In addition to the vaccine for the body, we also need a vaccine for the heart: caring for one another. It will be a good year if we care for others. ” He called for time to be found for others at the beginning of the year. “Time is the wealth we all have, but which we guard jealously because we only want to use it for ourselves.”
First cancellation of important services
Pope Francis canceled his participation in the evening New Year’s Eve prayer in St. Peter’s Basilica and the New Year’s mass yesterday. A Vatican spokesman justified the decision with a painful sciatica in the 84-year-old. At the same time, it was emphasized that the head of the church wanted to say the Angelus prayer in the library of the Apostolic Palace himself as planned after the New Year’s Mass.
It was the first time that Francis canceled a major ceremony due to illness. The state of health of the Pope is considered a sensitive issue in the Vatican since the beginning of the 2000s John Paul II headed the Catholic Church despite major health problems for a long time and his successor Benedict XVI. resigned for health reasons. Francis had reported sciatica pain in the past. He walks with visible discomfort and does not do squats. However, scheduled appointments are rarely canceled and the cause was mostly minor illnesses such as colds.
Angelus prayer wants to say the Pope himself
In the two services on New Year’s Eve and New Year, which the Pope traditionally conducts, Francis was represented by leading cardinals: yesterday by Cardinal Dean Giovanni Battista Re, today by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. Because of the corona pandemic, both dates had long been planned in a very small group. The New Year’s mass and the subsequent Angelus prayer are broadcast by several broadcasters.
With information from Jörg Seisselberg, ARD-Studio Rome