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People more important than the economy, pope says about COVID crisis

  • Philip Pullella

    Reuters

Vatican City   /   Mon, June 1, 2020   /   10:50 am
People more important than the economy, pope says about COVID crisis This photo taken and released on April 13, 2020 by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis deliver his blessing from the window of the Apostolic palace after he delivered his message during a private Angelus prayer live broadcast from the palace's library in the Vatican on Easter Monday. (Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP/-)

Pope Francis said on Sunday that people are more important than the economy, as countries decide how quickly to reopen their countries from coronavirus lockdowns.

Francis made his comments, departing from a prepared script, at the first noon address from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square in three months as Italy's lockdown drew to an end.

"Healing people, not saving (money) to help the economy (is important), healing people, who are more important than the economy," Francis said.

"We people are temples of the Holy Spirit, the economy is not," he said.

Francis did not mention any countries. Many governments are deciding whether to reopen their economies to save jobs and living standards, or whether to maintain lockdowns until they are sure the virus is fully under control.

Read also: Pope Francis begs in Milan street, his cassock in tatters

The pope's words were met with applause by hundreds of people in the square, many of whom wore masks and kept several metres from each other. The square was reopened to the public last Monday. Normally tens of thousands attend on a Sunday.

The last time the pope delivered his message and blessing from the window was March 1, before Italy, where more than 33,000 people have died from the virus, imposed a lockdown. The last restrictions will be lifted on Wednesday.

Francis led the crowd in silent prayer for medical workers who lost their lives by helping others.

He said he hoped the world would come out of the crisis more united, rather than divided.

"People do not come out of a crisis like this the same as before. We will come out either better or worse than before. Let's have the courage to emerge better than before in order to build the post-crisis period of the pandemic positively," he said.