Pope begins Lent as Ash Wednesday rites scaled again for COVID-19 By Reuters

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© Reuters. Ash Wednesday mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the Vatican

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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis led the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics into Lent on Ash Wednesday, as they scaled again a centuries-old ritual to assist stem the unfold of the coronavirus.

Francis, who usually marks the beginning of the penitential season with an outside procession between two historical church buildings in Rome, as an alternative stated a Mass for about 120 individuals in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Throughout Lent, which ends with Easter, Christians are referred to as on to quick, observe extra good deeds, give alms, be near the needy and struggling, and quit one thing, comparable to sweets.

Final month the Vatican issued tips for Ash Wednesday within the COVID-19 period.

They stated clergymen ought to sprinkle ashes on the pinnacle moderately than rub them on the brow, put on masks and recite the standard “Bear in mind that you’re mud and to mud you’ll return” as soon as earlier than everybody moderately that to every congregant.

The pope himself, nonetheless, didn’t completely apply the brand new guidelines, generously dumping ashes on the crown of the heads of some cardinals and patting them down.

Sprinkling of ashes has been customary in components of Europe and Latin America whereas rubbing on the brow is predominant in the USA.

In his sermon, the pope stated Lent ought to be an opportunity to go away behind “the false safety of cash and conveniences.. chasing issues which might be right here right this moment and gone tomorrow,” and return to God.

When the tweaked tips have been introduced, some Catholics complained, saying preserving ashes on the brow all day was a approach of displaying others you have been Christian.

Others made gentle of the modifications. “I’ve sufficient gray hair. This (sprinkling of ashes) is just not useful,” one girl tweeted. (This story has been refiled so as to add dropped phrase ‘put on’ in paragraph 5)

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