Pope Francis honours priests and doctors who have died in the coronavirus pandemic

On Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Francis said he was thinking of all the priests and doctors who gave their lives in the service of others during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Italy alone, more than 100 priests and 154 doctors have died of COVID-19, the pope said.

“May the example of these shepherds, priests and doctors, help us to take care of the holy faithful people of God,” Pope Francis said before this morning.

The pope said that the doctors who “care for the good of people” and “pastors who give their lives for the faithful” remind him of Jesus the Good Shepherd, to whom the Church dedicates the fourth Sunday of Easter.

“Jesus, in chapter ten of the Gospel of John, which we have read, presents himself as the shepherd. Indeed, not only the shepherd, but the ‘door’ through which one enters the flock,” he said in his homily.

Pope Francis said that this Sunday is “a beautiful Sunday” because of the peace and tenderness  that comes from knowing that Christ, the Good Shepherd, takes care of us. “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I lack,” he said.

“He bore our sins in his body on the wood of the cross, so that, no longer living for sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed. You were wandering like sheep, but now you have been brought back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls,” Pope Francis said, quoting the first letter of Peter.

Pope Francis said that one of the signs of the Good Shepherd is meekness. “The Good Shepherd listens to the flock, leads the flock, treats the flock. And the flock knows how to distinguish between the shepherds … the flock trusts the Good Shepherd, trusts Jesus,” he said.

In his Regina Caeli address, the pope prayed for all of the victims of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 3.4 million people worldwide and led to the deaths of more than 244,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

“Once again I would like to express my closeness to the sick of Covid-19, to those who dedicate themselves to their care, and to all those who, in any way, are suffering from the pandemic,” he said in the Sunday prayer broadcast.

“At the same time, I wish to support and encourage the international collaboration that is taking place with various initiatives to respond adequately and effectively to the serious crisis we are experiencing,” he said. “It is important, in fact, to put scientific capabilities together, in a transparent and disinterested way, to find vaccines and treatments and to guarantee universal access to essential technologies that allow every infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary health care.”