Pope Francis’ Christmas liturgies at the Vatican will be offered without public participation this year. This is to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in Italy.
According to the Secretariat of State to embassies accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis will celebrate the Vatican liturgies for the Christmas season “in a private form without the presence of members of the diplomatic Corps.” They also announced that the liturgies will instead be streamed online. (Read: Manila Cathedral Reopens Its Doors After Six Months)
Traditionally, diplomats accredited to the Holy See attend papal liturgies as special guests.
The decision to hold the liturgies in private is part of the coronavirus pandemic measures implemented in Italy. Pope Francis has also offered the 2020 Easter liturgies without the presence of the public. (Read: ORATIO IMPERATA on the Threat of COVID-19)
The Italian government had to issue new containment measures after an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks. Parties and receptions have been suspended, while gyms and theaters have been closed. Face masks are also mandated at all times in public.
During Advent and Easter season, the Pope’s schedule is usually full due to public liturgies and Masses. However, in the 2020 schedule of public papal activities released by the Vatican, certain events are not listed—such as the Midnight Mass for the Nativity of the Lord on December 24. Only the Urbi et Orbi blessing on Christmas Day is included.