Pope Francis skips Palm Sunday homily but continues service By Reuters


© Reuters. Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayers during the Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican on March 24, 2024. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


By Philip Pullella

(Reuters) – Pope Francis at the last minute skipped his Palm Sunday Mass for thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square but continued to preside over the ceremony, read his afternoon prayer and was driven around the crowd in the popemobile. .

In recent weeks the 87-year-old pope has been suffering from colds and flu and has assigned delegates to read his addresses, but on Sunday his planned text was not read at all.

It’s not unusual for the pope to skip a major event like Palm Sunday, which will mark the start of Holy Week, the busy time leading up to Easter.

The Vatican did not explain why the pope did not skip the event. Vatican television broadcasts showed the crowd for a few minutes, instead of approaching the pope.

A Vatican radio reporter said the Pope has decided not to read the scroll. The Pope, dressed in red, continued to preside, reading parts of the Mass.

Cardinals, priests and bishops took part in the service to remember what the Bible says that Jesus entered Jerusalem days before he was betrayed, judged and killed and crucified.

The religious leaders, together with the participants of the Vatican police force which is said to be around 60,000 people, had palm trees and olive branches for the ceremony.

Francis has a knee ailment and for more than a year he led the Mass sitting near the altar while the cardinal acted as chief celebrant.

After the Mass, Francis gave his weekly Angelus message and blessing from the altar rather than the window of the Apostolic Church overlooking the square. This is not unusual for large events.

In the prayer, he denounced the bombing that killed at least 133 people at a concert hall near Moscow as an abomination and cruelty that angers God.

He also asked to pray for all those suffering from war, mentioning Ukraine and Gaza.

At the end of the meeting, Francis was driven around the stadium in an open car. He waved and smiled at people in the crowd and didn’t seem to be bothered.

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