Pope calls for global solidarity over coronavirus in streamed service from empty St Peter’s Basilica

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urged crematoriums and local authorities not to treat coronavirus victims ‘like cattle’ and give them a dignified burial.

Mr Welby – who normally presides over a congregation of 1,500 people at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter morning – delivered his Easter service on his iPad at his London flat after the UK’s coronavirus death toll hit 9,875 with 917 fatalities yesterday.

The Archbishop said: ‘I say to crematoria and local authorities, don’t just dispose of bodies like we did in the foot-and-mouth episode with cattle.

‘Human beings must be said goodbye to with dignity even when it has to be swift and with very few people there.’

His address this morning was followed by Pope Francis who delivered his traditional Easter Sunday mass via live stream inside a nearly-deserted St Peter’s Basilica.

The 83-year-old pontiff broke with centuries of tradition and delivered his service to empty pews with a live feed broadcasting it to the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics. 

The Pope called global solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations and ceasefires in all conflicts.

He also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urged crematoriums and local authorities not to treat coronavirus victims 'like cattle' and give them a dignified burial

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urged crematoriums and local authorities not to treat coronavirus victims 'like cattle' and give them a dignified burial

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urged crematoriums and local authorities not to treat coronavirus victims ‘like cattle’ and give them a dignified burial 

Mr Welby - who normally presides over a congregation of 1,500 people at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter morning - delivered his Easter service on his iPad at his London flat after the UK's coronavirus death toll hit 9,875 with 917 coronavirus deaths yesterday

Mr Welby - who normally presides over a congregation of 1,500 people at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter morning - delivered his Easter service on his iPad at his London flat after the UK's coronavirus death toll hit 9,875 with 917 coronavirus deaths yesterday

Mr Welby – who normally presides over a congregation of 1,500 people at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter morning – delivered his Easter service on his iPad at his London flat after the UK’s coronavirus death toll hit 9,875 with 917 coronavirus deaths yesterday 

Pope Francis delivered his traditional Easter Sunday mass via live stream inside a nearly-deserted St Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis delivered his traditional Easter Sunday mass via live stream inside a nearly-deserted St Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis delivered his traditional Easter Sunday mass via live stream inside a nearly-deserted St Peter’s Basilica

The pope’s Easter ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) message was by far his most pressing and political since his election in 2013.

Saying the message of this year’s ‘Easter of solitude’ should be a ‘contagion of hope,’ he heaped praise on doctors, nurses and others risking their lives to save others and hailed those working to keep essential services running.

‘This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic,’ he said in the message, almost entirely dedicated to the pandemic’s effects on personal and international relations.

‘Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words forever!’ he said.

Francis expressed sympathy for those not able to bid farewell to their loved ones because of restrictions, for Catholics who have not been able to receive the sacraments and for all those worried about an uncertain future.

The Pope called global solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations and ceasefires in all conflicts

The Pope called global solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations and ceasefires in all conflicts

The Pope called global solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations and ceasefires in all conflicts

The pews at St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican were nearly empty during the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown

The pews at St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican were nearly empty during the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown

The pews at St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican were nearly empty during the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown

The empty scenes seen today were a stark contrast to the bustling crowds who gathered for the service last year

The empty scenes seen today were a stark contrast to the bustling crowds who gathered for the service last year

The empty scenes seen today were a stark contrast to the bustling crowds who gathered for the service last year

The Pope also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover

The Pope also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover

The Pope also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover

‘In these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed,’ he said.

The pope said now was the time for politicians and governments to avoid ‘self-centredness’ and take decisive, concerted action to help each others’ populations live through the crisis and eventually resume normal life.

‘May international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens,’ Francis said.

He also called for debt reductions or forgiveness for the poorest nations, without naming any countries. 

The Archbishop set up a makeshift altar on his dining table and was joined ‘virtually’ by bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkins and a 10-year-old parishioner named Theo from the diocese of Canterbury.

He opened his service by saying: ‘Welcome to the kitchen of our home on Easter Day.

‘At this very difficult time in the life of the nation and of the world, our prayers today are especially with those who are suffering, with those who care for them, and for all who mourn.’

A woman was seen praying on her knees outside the doors of Westminster Cathedral ahead of Easter mass with hundreds of places of worship shut to the public

A woman was seen praying on her knees outside the doors of Westminster Cathedral ahead of Easter mass with hundreds of places of worship shut to the public

A woman was seen praying on her knees outside the doors of Westminster Cathedral ahead of Easter mass with hundreds of places of worship shut to the public

St Paul’s Cathedral was eerily deserted after churches up and down the country were shut to control the spread of coronavirus

St Paul's cathedral was one of thousands of places of worship across the globe that have been shut to protect people from the spread of coronavirus

St Paul's cathedral was one of thousands of places of worship across the globe that have been shut to protect people from the spread of coronavirus

St Paul’s cathedral was one of thousands of places of worship across the globe that have been shut to protect people from the spread of coronavirus

A sign outside the closed St Paul's Cathedral read: 'For public safety the cathedral has closed. The cathedral ministers are continuing worship and prayer on behalf of all'

A sign outside the closed St Paul's Cathedral read: 'For public safety the cathedral has closed. The cathedral ministers are continuing worship and prayer on behalf of all'

A sign outside the closed St Paul’s Cathedral read: ‘For public safety the cathedral has closed. The cathedral ministers are continuing worship and prayer on behalf of all’

During his service he reminded his virtual congregation that ‘we are not alone’ during the crisis and offered prayers to Boris Johnson and all those affected by Covid-19.

What did the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby say in his Easter service?

The Archbishop of Canterbury started his service by saying: ‘Welcome to the kitchen of our home on Easter Day. 

‘At this very difficult time in the life of the nation and of the world, our prayers today are especially with those who are suffering, with those who care for them, and for all who mourn.’

He reminded his virtual congregation that ‘we are not alone’ during the crisis and offered prayers to Boris Johnson and all those affected by Covid-19.

‘Who does not feel the shock of the last few weeks?’ he asked. ‘So many have suffered from the virus, been in hospital or mourn someone who is gone.

‘We were all probably shocked as the Prime Minister went into intensive care and we wish him, and all those who are ill, well and we pray for them and their families.

‘So many people right across the country are anxious about employment, anxious about food, isolated from loved ones and feel that the future looks dark.

‘People right across the globe feel the same uncertainty, fear, despair and isolation. We are not alone.’

‘Who does not feel the shock of the last few weeks?’ he asked. 

‘So many have suffered from the virus, been in hospital or mourn someone who is gone.

‘We were all probably shocked as the Prime Minister went into intensive care and we wish him, and all those who are ill, well and we pray for them and their families.

‘So many people right across the country are anxious about employment, anxious about food, isolated from loved ones and feel that the future looks dark.

‘People right across the globe feel the same uncertainty, fear, despair and isolation. We are not alone.’

Speaking to the BBC after the service, Mr Welby said delivering the service from home had been ‘very strange’ and ’caused us to do a lot of tidying up’.

In his central message of a return to a ‘common life’, he said: ‘We’ve gone through so much and we’re seeing such common spirit and an attitude to the common good coming through by the vast majority of people – we mustn’t lose that.

‘We need to look at what the implications for that are in the way we live together as a nation and around the world.’

When asked if the CoE had gone too far with its restrictions on services the Archbishop said: ‘I’m unhappy with it – I would love to be at Canterbury Cathedral… it would be much better.

‘But the reality is, we are here to set an example. It’s not about us.’

Churches across Britain have been ordered to close their doors throughout the religious festival with even clergymen urged not to film services there.

Pope Francis is to deliver his traditional Easter Sunday mass via live stream from The Vatican in Italy, the European epicentre of the outbreak. Pictured: The Pope leading the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter early this morning

Pope Francis is to deliver his traditional Easter Sunday mass via live stream from The Vatican in Italy, the European epicentre of the outbreak. Pictured: The Pope leading the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter early this morning

Pope Francis is to deliver his traditional Easter Sunday mass via live stream from The Vatican in Italy, the European epicentre of the outbreak. Pictured: The Pope leading the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter early this morning

Believers wearing protective coronavirus face masks attend an Easter service at the Archangel Michael Church in the city of Navahrudak

Believers wearing protective coronavirus face masks attend an Easter service at the Archangel Michael Church in the city of Navahrudak

Believers wearing protective coronavirus face masks attend an Easter service at the Archangel Michael Church in the city of Navahrudak

Franciscan friars wore face masks as they entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to participate in the Easter Sunday service in Jerusalem's Old City

Franciscan friars wore face masks as they entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to participate in the Easter Sunday service in Jerusalem's Old City

Franciscan friars wore face masks as they entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to participate in the Easter Sunday service in Jerusalem’s Old City

Franciscan friar can be seen wearing a mask outside the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City

Franciscan friar can be seen wearing a mask outside the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City

Franciscan friar can be seen wearing a mask outside the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City

A woman wears a face mask outside a service at The Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok, Thailand

A woman wears a face mask outside a service at The Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok, Thailand

A woman wears a face mask outside a service at The Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok, Thailand

While the coronavirus crisis is unprecedented, it is not the first time churches have closed.

French Catholic priest is fined for celebrating Mass in secret ceremony

by Peter Allen 

A French Catholic priest has been fined for celebrating Mass in a secret behind-closed-door ceremony that broke the coronavirus lockdown on Easter Sunday.

Neighbours of Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, in Paris, alerted officers when they heard music coming out of the ancient place of worship soon after midnight.

‘There were around 40 people inside, all celebrating Easter Sunday Mass in contravention of the lockdown,’ said an investigating source.

‘Police arrived and found the doors of the church shut, but managed to get inside to break up the service, which was being conducted in Latin. Everybody was told to go home immediately, but the priest was later contacted and fined for breaking the rules.’

In 1208, Pope Innocent III fell out with King John over who should be the next Archbishop.

When King John refused to put a Parisian scholar in the role, Innocent placed the country under ‘interdict’ for six years shutting all churches and stopping services.

The only exceptions were baptisms – which took place in private – and ‘sacrament for the dying’, what we would now call funerals.

Many across the Church of England have become enraged by the ban on clergymen as they go further than the government advice.

The government had made provisions for such activities, so people belonging to churches up and down the country were still able to attend virtual services.

Those defying the rules set out by Mr Welby claimed they were being threatened with disciplinary measures.

One vicar said ‘it was time to revolt’ and another claimed they had ‘been going to church since lockdown’.

The Queen yesterday called for ‘light and life’ to overcome despair amid the coronavirus crisis as she declared that Easter is ‘not cancelled’ in a special Bank Holiday message.

Her Majesty has delivered what is believed to be her first Easter address, which had the resolute message: 'We know that coronavirus will not overcome us'. Pictured: A grab from the video posted on the Royal Family's social media page

Her Majesty has delivered what is believed to be her first Easter address, which had the resolute message: 'We know that coronavirus will not overcome us'. Pictured: A grab from the video posted on the Royal Family's social media page

Her Majesty has delivered what is believed to be her first Easter address, which had the resolute message: ‘We know that coronavirus will not overcome us’. Pictured: A grab from the video posted on the Royal Family’s social media page

Pope Francis lead the Easter vigil Mass in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican last night with no public participation due to the outbreak of the coronavirus

Pope Francis lead the Easter vigil Mass in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican last night with no public participation due to the outbreak of the coronavirus

Pope Francis lead the Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican last night with no public participation due to the outbreak of the coronavirus

The pope led yesterday's ceremony surrounded by few others in the huge church as it was held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus

The pope led yesterday's ceremony surrounded by few others in the huge church as it was held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus

The pope led yesterday’s ceremony surrounded by few others in the huge church as it was held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus

Her Majesty has delivered her first Easter audio address, which had the resolute message: ‘As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.’

The 93-year-old monarch’s pre-recorded speech offered support to those marking Easter privately and the wider country, and she said: ‘But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever.’

It ended on a positive note: ‘May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.’

Marking another break with tradition, the Pope celebrated the Holy Saturday Vigil for Easter behind closed doors at St Peter’s Basilica as Italy’s coronavirus death toll rose by to 619 to 19,468.

Francis led the Easter vigil Mass in the huge Vatican church without the rank-and-file as part of Covid-19 containment measures. 

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