16:25 GMT26 September 2020
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    On Sunday, Pope Francis delivered a mass blessing for the first time in three months; the move that was both supported and criticised by many in relation to existing social-distancing rules introduced around the world. But some even managed to link the ceremony with the Bible’s message warning about the dangers of wearing masks.

    The passage from the Gospel of Luke advising against hiding “behind religious masks” caught social media users’ attention after Pope Francis held Sunday mass service in Vatican City during the weekend.

    The verse from Chapter 12 says: “By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples.”

    “He said to them: ‘Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever, before long you’ll be exposed,” the message continued. “You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public, the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”

    The passage has been making rounds on social media since the start of the pandemic, but according to some media outlets, including the Express, it was especially highlighted after the Pope Francis’ service, during which the Pontiff gave a blessing from his window overlooking Saint Peter’s Square. For a couple of months, the pope’s religious messages have been live-streamed due to to self-isolation measures, but many religious sites, including St. Peter’s Basilica, have now been reopened to the public as the lockdown rules have begun easing down.

    It is not that clear though how the cited verse relates to the physical wearing of personal protective equipment, as it seems that the Jesus’s message was mainly a metaphor condemning hypocritical behaviour among preachers, but some still referred to the passage to criticise the need to wear masks publicly.

    The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention earlier strongly advised people to use masks or other cover ups when in public in order to prevent spreading infection or getting infected themselves, while some health authorities maintained that the measure should come only as an additional step to already exercised social distancing practices. Many thus criticised the idea to hold public services in general until the health situation improves. Meanwhile, many religious figures, including several clergymen across the United States, refused to shut down religious establishments and continued holding services attracting thousands of worshippers.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, Pope Francis, Vatican City, Italy, United States
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