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Pope Francis skips traditional Palm Sunday homily during Mass

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Pope Francis broke tradition during the start of Holy Week on Sunday, skipping a reading of his annual Palm Sunday homily during Mass at the last minute.

Reuters reported that the pontiff was in front of tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square when he skipped the homily but continued to run the service before heading out in the popemobile and circling the crowd.

The 87-year-old pope has suffered in recent weeks from bronchitis and influenza, leading to him having an aide read his addresses for him.

On Sunday, though, Francis’ prepared text was not read at all.

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Pope Francis at his weekly audience in the Vatican on Feb. 28, 2024.  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, then leads to Easter. It is unusual for a pope to skip a homily at an event with so much importance.

The Vatican did not provide an explanation for why Francis skipped the homily, and rather than point the cameras at the pontiff, they were pointed at the crowd for a few minutes.

An announcer then said on Vatican Radio that Francis decided not to read the homily. Still, he continued to preside over the service and read parts of the Mass.

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Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican, Wednesday, June 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The service, which includes cardinals, priests and bishops, commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem days before he was betrayed by Judas, put on trial and crucified on the cross.

Vatican police estimate there were about 60,000 people in the crowd, many holding palms and olive branches during the service.

Following the Mass, the pope delivered the weekly Sunday Angelus message and blessing from the altar, rather than from a window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking the square, though that is not unusual when major events take place.

While giving the prayer, Francis condemned an attack at a concert hall near Moscow resulting in the deaths of more than 130 people, calling the massacre a vile and inhuman act that offends God.

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He also asked for prayers for those suffering in Gaza, Ukraine and other areas of war.

After the service, Francis took a ride around the square in an open-top vehicle while waving and smiling at the crowd.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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