How the coronavirus may reshape Pope Francis’ to-do list


March 23, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Pope Francis suspended the activities of the Vatican City State’s tribunal Thursday, March 19, in keeping with similar measures adopted by the Italian government, as the latest step to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In effect, the decision means that unless a criminal trial or prosecution is judged to be incapable of delay, it’ll have to wait.

It was one of the many examples this month of how things in the Vatican essentially have been frozen in place, from the sweeping reform of the Roman Curia Pope Francis has pledged to the long-awaited report on sexual abuse and misconduct allegations against ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Someday, however, the pandemic will ebb. When that happens, will the effect of the coronavirus be tantamount to a “pause” button, and we’ll just pick up the movie where we left off? Or, will the pandemic give the Vatican new priorities that would not have been the case without the shock of a global public health crisis, one which, to boot, is hitting his own backyard in Italy right now harder than anywhere else on the planet?

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