Pope Francis hosts Ash Wednesday service – and appears to break Covid rules | World | News

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Francis, who normally marks the start of the penitential season with an outdoor procession between two ancient churches in Rome, instead said a Mass for about 120 people in St. Peter’s Basilica. During Lent, which ends with Easter, Christians are called on to fast, practice more good deeds, give alms, be close to the needy and suffering, and give up something, such as sweets.

Last month the Vatican issued guidelines for Ash Wednesday in the COVID-19 era.

The Vatican’s worship congregation asked Catholic bishops globally to make “prudent decisions” about how their communities should celebrate Easter this year given the continuing danger of spreading the coronavirus

They said priests should sprinkle ashes on the head rather than rub them on the forehead, wear masks and recite the traditional “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return” once before everyone rather that to each congregant.

The pope himself, however, did not totally apply the new rules, generously dumping ashes on the crown of the heads of some cardinals and patting them down.

Sprinkling of ashes has been customary in parts of Europe and Latin America while rubbing on the forehead is predominant in the United States.

In his sermon, the pope said Lent should be a chance to leave behind “the false security of money and conveniences… chasing things that are here today and gone tomorrow,” and return to God.

When the tweaked guidelines were announced, some Catholics complained, saying keeping ashes on the forehead all day was a way of showing others you were Christian.

Others made light of the changes. “I have enough grey hair.

This [sprinkling of ashes] is not helpful,” one woman tweeted.

Last year, the Vatican congregation told bishops they could celebrate Holy Week without the presence of the faithful in order to comply with any local health measures.

It also suggested that bishops celebrate Holy Thursday without the washing of the feet and Good Friday without the kissing of the cross.





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