Flying priests and empty churches: Easter in the time of coronavirus
From services in empty churches and “drive-through” confessions, to priests blessing entire cities from the skies, with dozens of countries in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, worshippers all over the world have had to find innovative ways to mark the Easter holidays.
In Ecuador’s Guayaquil, the city hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak in the country, Bishop Giovanni Battista boarded a helicopter this Thursday to offer traditional Easter blessings to the residents below.
"Never in the history of the Church has there been a Holy Week like this week due to the pandemic and so we just have to follow the rules that the government has given us,” he said.
In many places, the coronavirus pandemic has seen religious gatherings of all kinds banned and places of worship shuttered as governments try to control the virus’s spread.
Pope Francis held Mass in an empty St. Peter's Basilica on Thursday, while in Paris, the archbishop issued his traditional Maundy Thursday blessings outside the Sacré-Cœur basilica which overlooks the city from the top of Montmartre.
Priests in other countries, including Mexico and Poland, have been holding "drive-through" confessions in the run-up to Easter, where worshippers can confess their sins from the safety of their own vehicles.
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