- Mar 31, 2020
Because much of the novel unfolds against the backdrop of an outbreak of the plague, it’s no surprise Alessandro Manzoni’s famous work “I Promessi Sposi” has been much-cited over the past month, as Italy has grappled with the highest coronavirus death count in the world
Despite a news blackout, it’s not difficult to guess what was on the agenda for Monday’s conversation between Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and it can be summarized in two words: “Now” and “then.”
In one fell swoop Friday night, Francis not only delivered what seems destined to become the most iconic image of the pandemic, he effectively shut down what had been a mounting undercurrent of criticism about the supposed “invisibility” and “silence” of the Church.
In real life, my experience is that many Catholics recognize the competing values at stake and don’t envy bishops who have to make virtually unprecedented judgment calls.
When the day finally comes that the Church can return to normal liturgical and pastoral life, what then?
The coronavirus phenomenon – not the disease, but the social and cultural dynamics surrounding it – has upended normal routines, generating unexpected and, occasionally, surreal new experiences.