Pope Francis to Resume General Audiences With Presence of the Faithful

The audiences will be held in the San Damaso courtyard of the apostolic palace throughout September rather than their usual location of St. Peter’s Square.

San Damaso courtyard, March 22, 2014.
San Damaso courtyard, March 22, 2014. (photo: Edward Pentin/NCRegister)

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis’ weekly general audiences will resume with the presence of the faithful from Sept. 2.

In a statement, the Vatican said the decision was taken “following health guidelines from the authorities,” and would take place in the San Damaso courtyard of the apostolic palace, starting at 9.30 a.m.

It added that participation is “open to all” who wish to attend, “without the need for tickets” and entrance will begin “from 7.30 am from the Bronze Door” which is located under the colonnade on the right of St. Peter's Square facing the basilica.

Holding the audiences in the San Damaso courtyard marks a break from their usual locations of St. Peter’s Square or the Paul VI Hall. 

Designed by the Italian architect Martino Longhi il Vecchio, the 16th century courtyard dates back to the pontificate of Pope Gregory VIII and is large enough to contain several hundred visitors. It is usually used for heads of state and other visitors when arriving for private papal audiences by vehicle, or for ceremonies such as the swearing in of new Swiss Guards.

Pope Francis cancelled all public appearance with the faithful on March 7 as the coronavirus outbreak took hold in Italy, preceding the country’s nationwide lockdown which began two days later. 

Since then, he has held all his general audiences in the library of the apostolic palace and had them live streamed on Vatican television and on the internet. 

The Pope later began appearing from the window of the apostolic palace to give his Sunday Angelus address, but otherwise has refrained from making public appearances with the faithful because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Italy currently has 878 recorded cases of COVID-19, up slightly from a low earlier this month.


Audience Catechesis

In his livestreamed audience catechesis today, the Pope noted how the pandemic has made the world’s problems “ever more evident and indeed more serious.” 

“Among these is social inequality, itself the fruit of an unjust global economy that creates boundless wealth for a relative few and greater impoverishment for the rest of our human family,” the Pope said according to a summary of the catechesis provided by the Vatican. 

God’s plan, he continued, was for the earth to be “created as a garden, to be cultivated, not brutally exploited” and that, as stewards of creation, “we are called to ensure that its fruits, which are destined for all, are in fact shared by all.” 

The Pope added that the Church reminds us that “the principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods is the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.” 

No one can “stand by idly” when millions of people “lack access to primary goods, when inequality and lack of opportunity threaten the very fabric of society, and when greed endangers the very environment in which we live.”  

Christian hope, which trusts in the transforming grace of the risen Christ, “impels us to work for the healing of our world and the building of a more just and equitable social order,” the Pope concluded.