Pope won't visit East Timor, more trips in doubt

Pope won’t visit East Timor, more trips in doubt

Pope won’t visit East Timor, more trips in doubt

Firemen spray disinfectants outside a public market in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Credit: Aaron Favila/AP.)

The Vatican representative to East Timor said a visit by Pope Francis has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Vatican representative to East Timor said a visit by Pope Francis has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Monsignor Marco Sprizzi, Chargé d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, told reporters in Dili that Francis had previously indicated his willingness to visit East Timor later this year. But Sprizzi cited concerns about large crowds, saying “because he did not want his people affected by the coronavirus, he canceled his visit.”

The Vatican had never confirmed Francis would visit Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea later this year. The only foreign travel it has confirmed this year, a May 31 daytrip to Malta, likely will be called off given Malta on Tuesday barred all air traffic to and from Italy.

The Vatican, a walled city-state in the heart of Rome, has adopted the same sweeping lockdown measures imposed throughout Italy to contain the spread of the virus.

Francis now issues his blessings and celebrates his private morning Mass via livestream, and the Vatican has closed St. Peter’s Basilica to tourists, though it remains open for private prayer.

Indonesia says a foreigner has become its first fatality from COVID-19.

Achmad Yurianto, the government spokesman on efforts to contain the coronavirus, said Wednesday the 53-year-old woman had diabetes and lung disease and had contracted the virus abroad.

Yurianto did not reveal the patient’s nationality and said her husband will be repatriated soon.

The spokesman said two of Indonesia’s 27 cases have recovered. More than 119,000 people worldwide have contracted the virus, with more than half of those recovered. The virus causes mild illness for most people but can severe in older people and those with existing health problems.


Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.

Latest Stories