Pope Francis, in first post-lockdown audience, thanks Italian doctors

Pope Francis adresses doctors and nurses from the coronavirus-ravaged Lombardy region at the Vatican on Saturday, June 20, 2020. (Vatican News via AP)
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Updated 20 June 2020

Pope Francis, in first post-lockdown audience, thanks Italian doctors

  • ‘You were one of the supporting pillars of the entire country’
  • Pope Francis thanked the health workers, who wore masks during the audience, for being ‘angels’

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Saturday held his first audience for a group of people since Italy lifted its coronavirus lockdown, granting it to health workers from the Italian region most affected by the pandemic.
“You were one of the supporting pillars of the entire country,” he told doctors and nurses from the Lombardy region gathered in the Vatican’s frescoed Clementine Hall, which had not been used for months because of the crisis.
“To those of you here and to your colleagues all across Italy go my esteem and my sincere thanks, and I know very well I am interpreting everyone’s sentiments,” he said.
He thanked the health workers, who wore masks, for being “angels,” including by lending their cell phones to dying patients so they could say their final goodbyes to their loved ones.
Italy returned to relative normality on June 3 when Italians were allowed to move between regions again. But rules such as social distancing in public and wearing masks are still in effect.
Nearly 35,000 people in Italy have died of coronavirus, the fourth highest number in the world after the United States, Brazil and Britain.
Nearly 170 of them were doctors and the pope paid special tribute to them in his address on Saturday.
At the end the meeting, the pope joked about what he called “the liturgy of the greeting” explaining that they would take a group picture but he would “be obedient to the rules” and greet them from a distance as he passed down the aisle.
Francis’ weekly general audience is still being held without the public and streamed over the Internet, although he has resumed giving his Sunday message from his window since St. Peter’s Square was reopened last month.
He has resumed public Masses but with only about 50 people allowed.


At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

Updated 01 December 2020

At least two killed as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in German town

  • The driver was arrested and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police tweeted
  • Two people have died, and 15 others had suffered serious injuries

BERLIN: At least two people including a child were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier, authorities said.
Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.
Police said several people had been killed, having earlier put the death toll at two, with more than 10 injured. The local newspaper, the Trierischer Volksfreund, put the death toll at four, including a child, but police did not confirm that figure.
"We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured," police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area was being questioned, police said.
Mayor Wolfram Leibe had rushed to the scene.
"We have a driver who ran amok in the city. We have two dead that we are certain of and up to 15 injured, some of them with the most severe injuries," he told public broadcaster SWR.
"I just walked through the city centre and it was just horrible. There is a trainer lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead," he told a news conference, with tears stopping him from speaking further.
He told broadcaster N-TV that people who saw the incident were "totally traumatised" and the street "looks a bit like after a war".
Leibe said he did not know the motive for the incident, which shocked residents of Germany's oldest town, founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.
The Trierischer Volksfreund quoted an eyewitness as saying a Range Rover was driving at high speed and people had been thrown through the air. It said the car had Trier plates.
It reported that people screamed in panic when the car drove through the street.
Officers were scouring the area in search of evidence, backed by police dressed in flak jackets and carrying rifles. On the streets, Christmas lights twinkled incongruously.
Germany has tightened security on pedestrian zones across the country since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.
In October 2019, a man opened fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. After failing to get into the building he went on a rampage outside, killing two people.
In February this year a racist gunman killed nine migrants in Hanau near Frankfurt before killing his mother and himself. Only about a week later, a local man ploughed his car into a carnival parade in the town of Volkmarsen, injuring 61.
Germany has tightened measures to fight the coronavirus, with bars and restaurants closed, but shops and schools are still open.
"What happened in Trier is shocking. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, with the numerous injured and with everyone who is currently on duty to care for the victims," Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Twitter.