This is a problem — and it is an issue that’s been getting renewed scrutiny, and someone at the Vatican today had a few words on the subject: 

As Pope Francis faces mounting criticism for not wearing a face mask amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Italy and the rest of Europe, a Vatican official has acknowledged that the pope is at high risk and voiced hope the pontiff would wear a mask more often.

Asked why the pope doesn’t don a facemask during his public audiences despite Italian state protocols requiring citizens to wear one, Father Augusto Zampini noted that Pope Francis is over 80 years old, and “a high risk person if he got COVID.”

Adjunct secretary of the Vatican department for Integral Human Development, which oversees the Vatican’s COVID taskforce, Zampini spoke to journalists during an Oct. 27 roundtable on the taskforce’s work.

Pope Francis “has started to use the mask now and I hope he will use it,” Zampini said, adding, “We are working on that.”

However, Zampini suggested that it is not necessary to wear a mask in large spaces with plenty of room for people to keep their distance, saying, “When we are in an open space, we know that it’s different,” and, “if I was going to be photographed 24 hours a day, I might be in trouble as well.”

Ever since he resumed public audiences in September, Francis has come under increased criticism over his decision not to use a face mask at the events, despite the fact that faithful who attend are all required to wear one.

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