By Jim Fair

It should come as no surprise that Pope Francis is not a fan of “social distancing.”

He likes to be among the crowds, hugging, shaking hands, holding babies, sharing the joy of life. No one will ever accuse him of being cold or indifferent to the people.

But with the pandemic, even the Holy Father has been forced to make some concessions for the sake of health and safety. And for that, he expressed his regret during his October 21, 2020, general audience in Paul VI Hall.”

“Today, we need to change a bit the way the audience is conducted because of the coronavirus.,” Francis lamented. “You are separated, with the protection of masks as well, and I am here, a bit distant and I cannot do what I always do, coming near you, because every time I do that all of you come together and do not maintain distance and there is the danger of contagion for you.

“I apologize for this, but it is for your safety. Instead of coming near you and shaking your hands and greeting you, we have to greet each other from a distance, but know that I am near you with my heart. I hope that you understand why I am doing this.”

The Holy Father also confessed to having experienced a distraction many people encounter when attending Mass: a crying baby. But he turned the distraction into a blessing.

“Also, while the readers were reading the biblical passage, my attention was caught by that baby boy or girl over there who was crying, and I was watching the mamma who was cuddling and nursing the baby and I said: this is what God does with us, like that mamma.,” the Pope said. “With what tenderness she was trying to comfort and nurse the baby. They are beautiful images.

“And when it happens that a baby cries in Church, listening to that and feeling that tenderness of a mamma there, like today, and thanks for your witnesses, and there is the tenderness of a mamma which is the symbol of God’s tenderness with us. Never silence a crying baby in Church, never, because it is the voice that attracts God’s tenderness. Thank you for your witness.”

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