Pope says people more important than economies as nations begin to lift coronavirus restrictions

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Pope Francis, in his first noon address from his balcony since Italy ended its lockdown, said that as nations reopen they should prioritize human lives over the economy.

“Healing people, not saving (money) to help the economy (is important), healing people, who are more important than the economy,” Francis said, according to Reuters. “We people are temples of the Holy Spirit, the economy is not.”

The address overlooking St. Peter’s Square was the first in about three months. A crowd of hundreds gathered for the speech, a fraction of the tens of thousands who would normally be present. Attendees wore masks and practiced physical distancing. The square, which reopened Monday, has not been the site of an address by Francis since March 1. Italy, which has seen more than 33,000 deaths from the virus thus far, is set to lift the last restrictions Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The Pope went on to lead a silent prayer for health care workers who have lost their lives during and the pandemic and expressing hopes that the world would emerge more united.

“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.

The pontiff has frequently spoken of the need for people and nations to come together during the crisis, saying in April that once the “time of trial” was over, nations should work to eliminate global inequalities.

“We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us,” Francis said during the Feast of Divine Mercy last month. “The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!”

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