#COVID19: Italian Priest Says It Is Improper To Celebrate Mass In An Empty Church — Asks For Pictures Of Parishioners

by on April 5, 2020

Amid COVID19 social distancing protocols being observed across the world, an Italian priest has been pictured with photographs of his parishioners.

A recent tweet by data storyteller, Norbert Elekes, quoted the priest as saying “it’s too sad to celebrate mass in an empty church.”

“So he asked parishioners to send him their photos. The church is now full of selfies,” the tweet added.

Four weeks into a nationwide lockdown, very few Italians are still singing from their balconies or banging pots and pans in solidarity. Instead, flags were lowered to half-staff this week for the nearly 15,000 coronavirus victims including doctors, nurses and health care professionals who have perished since February 23.

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The lockdown, which was originally scheduled to end Friday, April 3, has now been extended to beyond Easter, and Italians from north to south are nearing a breaking point just as the draconian measures have begun to show signs of stopping the spread of Covid-19.

Italy’s wealthy northern provinces have taken the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak with more than 75% of overall cases and deaths north of Tuscany, in the center of the country, per the Italian Civil Protection agency.

More than 10,000 health care workers in the northern provinces have been infected with the virus, according to the Italian Doctor’s Federation, as a lack of proper protective gear made contagion inside healthcare facilities a contributor to the rampant spread. Some of the best health structures in all of Europe are in northern Italy, but they were pushed to near collapse with the sheer number of Covid-19 patients in need of urgent care.

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Had the initial infection cluster started in the poorer southern regions, which do not have the same strong infrastructure, no one disputes that the crisis would have been even worse.

But the southern regions are struggling, too. The so-called “mezzogiorno” is where organized crime syndicate hubs are based and where unemployment hovers around 20% for adults and up to 50% for those under 24 during the best of times, according to figures from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT).

Even with the outbreak in some southern communities affecting “only” a few thousand, the facilities are stretched and care for non-Covid patients has been severely compromised.

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With a huge part of the southern population working in the so-called “black economy” off the books, a whole segment of people lost jobs for which they cannot legally claim unemployment benefits. Those who do have legitimate employment have been given a path to ask for the suspension of some bills, but black economy workers– of whom there are an estimated 3.7 million, according to ISTAT — have no such outlet for relief.

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