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Italy is seeing a spike in the coronavirus outbreak, with the second-highest number of confirmed cases after China. But with the whole nation on lockdown — the strongest public safety measures taken in Italy since World War II — Catholics are feeling abandoned by the hierarchy after it capitulated to government calls to halt public Masses until April.
While the U.S. economy has trembled in the past few weeks owing to media-pushed fears over the virus spreading, the Italian economy has suffered more due to the nation-wide quarantine which demands all businesses close by 6 p.m.
It was announced Tuesday that Italian police had closed St. Peter's Square. Catholics around the world are criticizing the Holy See's move to close parishes in the diocese of Rome, attributing the response to a loss of faith among those in the Vatican.
During the plague of Rome in the late sixth century, St. Gregory the Great led processions and prayers of repentance besides assisting those afflicted with the plague.
Upon the completion of a public procession where over 80 participants died, the account states:
As the procession neared the Vatican, the participants all saw St. Michael the archangel standing upon the cupola of Hadrian's mausoleum as he sheathed his flaming sword. It was a sign that the chastisement had come to an end, and at once the heaviness in the air abated and the air itself seemed to freshen and clear. Indeed, at that moment the plague ended as the faithful rejoiced and lifted up their voices to thank the Mother of God.
Although reasonable precautions should be taken by all, some feel the Vatican is capitulating to the secular government in a way no pope has ever done during a time of sickness.
To hear more on what's going on in Rome watch The Download—Mass Confusion in Rome.