Pope Francis tells Italian Army officers to remove their Covid masks as they pose for a photo at the Vatican (photos)

Pope Francis on Wednesday asked Italian Army officers to remove their Covid masks while they posed for pictures/ at the Vatican.  In the images, Pope was seen turning behind him to speak to the Italian Army and telling them to take their masks off. After they removed the mask, the group then posed for photos during a meeting at the Vatican.     The officers had arrived at the Vatican for the Pope’s weekly general audience at the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday.     It comes after the Pope was criticised back in 2020 for not wearing a face mask and only wearing one for the first time in October, seven months after the coronavirus outbreak.  During the Wednesday audience, Pope Francis asked people around the world to remember Ukrainians in underground shelters seeking protection from bombardments and thanked Poland for taking in the bulk of refugees from the war. Francis spoke at his weekly general audience on Ash Wednesday, which he has declared a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine. After addressing Poles, the pope went off-script to say that the Polish translator on the stage with him, Father Marek Viktor Gongalo, is Ukrainian.  ‘His parents are now in underground shelters to protect themselves from the bombs in a place near Kyiv,’ the pope said. ‘By accompanying him, we accompany all the people who are suffering from the bombings, including his elderly parents and so many other elderly who are in underground shelters defending themselves. Let us remember these people in our hearts.’

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