Roman Catholic Pope Francis during Palm Sunday services said that the Devil is taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The Devil is taking advantage of the crisis to sow distrust, desperation and discord,” Francis said, remarking that the coronavirus pandemic had produced physical, psychological and spiritual suffering, according to Reuters. The pontiff made his remarks in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica, due to COVID-19 restrictions for the second straight year.

In contrast to prior Palm Sundays when tens of thousands of people would fill St. Peter’s Square holding olive branches and palm fronds during an outdoor ceremony, this year only around 120 individuals participated in Sunday’s Mass. Others included Pope Francis and around 30 cardinals in a secondary wing of the basilica, the outlet reported.

“Last year we were shocked. This year we are more under pressure and the economic crisis has become heavy,” Francis remarked during his traditional Sunday noon address following the Mass.

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