- Title: Faithful divided over reopening of churches during coronavirus lockdown
- Date: 15th March 2020
- Summary: ROME, ITALY (MARCH 15, 2020) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF CHURCH PRIEST WALKING TOWARDS ALTAR OF EMPTY CHURCH FAITHFUL SEATED IN CHURCH FAITHFUL WALKING INSIDE CHURCH VIEW OF EMPTY CHURCH (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PRIEST, FATHER PIETRO SIGURANI, SAYING: "Faithful are divided and they have different opinions. Many of them cannot understand the closure of churches, also because they say that tobacconists, supermarkets, perfumeries, post offices, banks are open and many wonders why the churches are closed. Luckily Pope Francis on Friday (March 13) said to reopen the churches." FAITHFUL SEATED IN EMPTY CHURCH (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PRIEST, FATHER PIETRO SIGURANI, SAYING: "I think that by observing the rules that apply to public offices, masses in some cases and in some churches could have been held." VIEW OF EMPTY CHURCH FAITHFUL PRAYING IN EMPTY CHURCH EXTERIOR OF CLOSED CHURCH SIGN ON WINDOW EXPLAINING CHURCHES ARE OPEN EXTERIOR OF CLOSED CHURCH (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ROME RESIDENT, ANTONIETTA RICCERI, SAYING: "I am used to going to mass and I feel uneasy, but I am convinced that closing churches was the right decision because contact is inevitable in a church. So, it is good to take all possible precautions. On the other hand, you can also pray at home. People who want to pray can pray at home." EXTERIOR OF CLOSED CHURCH (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ROME RESIDENT, LAURA FORMICA, SAYING: L "I am sorry that churches are closed because it is an important comfort for believers. So, in my opinion perhaps with some caution on distances and following the rules it would be good to keep churches open." POLICEMEN WEARING PROTECTIVE MASKS IN FRONT OF ST. PETER'S SQUARE PEOPLE WEARING PROTECTIVE MASKS OFFICIALS IN ST. PETER'S SQUARE VIEW OF EMPTY ST. PETER'S SQUARE TURIN, ITALY (MARCH 15, 2020) (REUTERS) MAN WEARING PROTECTIVE MASK IN SQUARE LOOKING AT CHURCH BELLS RINGING CHURCH BELLS RINGING WOMAN IN SQUARE WEARING PROTECTIVE MASK AS CHURCH BELLS RINGING NAPLES, ITALY (MARCH 15, 2020) (REUTERS) VIEW OF EMPTY CHURCH FAITHFUL SEATED IN EMPTY CHURCH VARIOUS OF LOCAL POLICEMEN ASKING PEOPLE TO STAY AT HOME
- Keywords: Italy Pope Francis Rome Vatican City churches coronavirus outbreak health lockdown pandemic virus
- Reuters ID: LVA001C55W0NB
- Location: ROME, TURIN AND NAPLES, ITALY
- City: ROME, TURIN AND NAPLES, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Duration: 00:04:19
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: A few faithful prayed on Sunday (March 15) in deserted churches after Rome diocese ordered the reopening of churches.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis on Friday modified his order to close Rome's churches to help contain the spread of coronavirus after Pope Francis cautioned against "drastic measures" and Catholics took to social media to complain and issued a new decree less than a day after his initial order.
And many churches in the Italian capital were open.
But, even with this new decision, some churches opened to faithful while others remained closed.
"Faithful are divided and they have different opinions," father Pietro Sigurani told Reuters.
"Many of them cannot understand the closure of churches, also because they say that tobacconists, supermarkets, perfumeries, post offices, banks are open and many wonder why the churches are closed".
Some Catholics accused the cardinal of caving in to the government after his initial decree on Thursday (March 12) night.
Catholic bishops around the world were deciding how to deal with the pandemic in their own dioceses and what guidance they should give to the 1.3 billion-member Church.
"I am convinced that closing churches was the right decision because contact is inevitable in a church," faithful Antonietta Ricceri said. "People who want to pray can pray at home."
Whereas most of Rome's more than 750 churches were to have been closed until April 3, the new decree says all parish churches and those run by religious communities will remain open.
Those that will close number fewer than 300 and do not have a parish community or are visited mostly by tourists.
Previously, only Masses had been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. Individual bishops can decide whether to keep their churches open, and many are open in parts of Italy.
The pope is bishop of Rome and the cardinal is his administrative vicar.
The Italian government on Wednesday (March 11) closed virtually every commercial activity in the country apart from pharmacies, food shops and other stores selling essential goods and services
(Production: Carmelo Camilli, Massimo Pinca, Ciro De Luca, Fabiano Franchitti)
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