"Pope Francis among the people at St. Peter's Square" by Edgar Jiménez / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pope Francis, 83 and missing part of one lung, shrugs off covid-19 mask mandates

Oct 30, 2020

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli

Pope Francis indeed has a mask. It’s unadorned and white, just a shade paler than his papal cassock.

But he almost never wears it.

He goes maskless in public appearances. He goes maskless when hosting visitors. His aversion is deep enough that even guests seem to take the cue: Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arrived at the Vatican wearing a mask. But he and his entourage were unmasked when meeting with Francis in the apostolic library.

Francis is far from the only world figure to buck the best safety protocols of the pandemic era. But his habits are particularly puzzling, given that he is 83, missing part of a lung and has talked with clarity about the ravages of the virus. Vatican watchers are worried, and say Francis seems to almost be daring an infection, perhaps while trying to show that his personable style won’t be cowed by the coronavirus’s danger.

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