‘We pray these restrictions may be lifted’: Pope celebrates Easter in pandemic-weary world

Vatican City: Christianity’s most joyous feast day was celebrated worldwide with the faithful spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through masks on a second Easter Sunday marked by pandemic precautions.

From vast Roman Catholic cathedrals to Protestant churches, worshippers followed regulations on the coronavirus. In some European countries, citizens lined up on Easter for their turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In Israel, travel restrictions and quarantine regulations prevented foreign pilgrims from flocking to religious sites in the contested Old City of Jerusalem during Holy Week, which culminates in Easter celebrations.

Deserted last year for the first time in six centuries after the pandemic hit, the Church of the Holy Sephulchre was attended by dozens of clergymen and worshippers, a turnout enabled by an Israeli vaccination campaign – the fastest in the world – that has driven down infections.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, voiced hope in his homily for a post-coronavirus world of greater substance and spirituality.

“(We are) tempted to run backward, to find the bodies we lost, the missed opportunities, the postponed feasts, the life that seemed to escape us,” he said.

But, he said: “We should have the courage to be disciples of the impossible, capable of seeing the world with a glance redeemed by the encounter with the Risen One…. Nothing is impossible for those who have faith.”

Read the article by Frances D’Emilio in The Sydney Morning Herald.