Italy’s consumer rights group Codacons on Saturday called on Pope Francis to cancel his Angelus address due to fears of spreading the Chinese coronavirus.
“At present all large gatherings of people from multiple parts of the world represent a potential risk to human health, and fuel the risk of spreading the virus,” said Carlo Rienzi, the president of the association, on Saturday.
“In this delicate phase of great uncertainty therefore extreme measures are needed to protect public safety: For this reason we appeal to Pope Francis to suspend tomorrow’s Angelus in St. Peter’s Square and all the main religious functions that attract a large number of faithful,” he continued.
Rienzi said that if the Vatican events went on as scheduled, the pope should invite believers to follow the events on television from home.
Codacons said this policy should also apply at other tourist attractions, such as the Colosseum, and also called on the government to suspend the Rome Marathon, due to take place on March 29.
Over 11,000 people in China have been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus, and over 250 people have died.
On Jan. 23, the Chinese government suspended transport links to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
However, the World Health Organization has said there is minimal risk for people outside of China.
“There are now 83 cases in 18 countries [outside of China]. Of these, only 7 had no history of travel in China. There has been human-to-human transmission in 3 countries outside China. One of these cases is severe and there have been no deaths,” the WHO said in a Jan. 30 statement.
The WHO said it does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions based on the current information available and warned against “actions that promote stigma or discrimination.”
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.