By Lottie Gibbons

Published:December 25, 2021




ITV accidentally announced the death of the Pope during a news bulletin.

Pope Francis, who has not died, featured in ITV’s Evening News at 5.15pm after making his Christmas Day address.

The Pope prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, using his Christmas Day address to urge healthcare for all, vaccines for the poor and for dialogue to prevail in resolving the world’s conflicts.

ITV provided a summary of his speech, but an accidental blunder saw the newsreader accidentally announce his death.

She said: “Meanwhile, the Pope’s festive address focused on his prayers for the pandemic to come to an end.

“He said vaccines should be made available to those most in need.

“His death was announced…

“Excuse me.”

The pope’s Christmas Day speech gives him an opportunity to draw a global audience’s attention to conflicts big and small.

This year was no different. Francis lamented ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, newly flaring tensions in Ukraine and Ethiopia, and an “unprecedented crisis” in Lebanon.

“We have become so used to them (conflicts) that immense tragedies are now being passed over in silence; we risk not hearing the cry of pain and distress of so many of our brothers and sisters,” he said from St Peter’s Basilica as Swiss Guards stood at attention in the square below.

Francis warned of the pandemic tendency to withdraw and isolate, urging instead dialogue to try to resolve the world’s conflicts. He prayed in particular for those most affected by the virus, including women and children who have suffered increased abuse during lockdowns.

“Son of God, comfort the victims of violence against women, which has increased in this time of pandemic. Offer hope to young children and adolescents suffering from bullying and abuse,” he said.

He prayed for “consolation and warmth” for older adults who are alone, as well as for healthcare workers who “generously devote themselves” to caring for the sick.

“Grant health to the infirm and inspire all men and women of good will to seek the best ways possible to overcome the current health crisis and its effects,” he said. “Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care – and vaccines in particular – are provided to those peoples who need them most.”

Francis delivered his speech hours after celebrating a midnight Mass service for some 2,000 people, a fraction of the basilica’s capacity. The service actually began at 7.30pm, a nod to the 85-year-old pope’s endurance.

For the second day in a row, Italy on Friday set a daily pandemic record with 50,599 new cases. Another 141 people died, bringing Italy’s official death toll in the pandemic to 136,386.

With the arrival of the Omicron variant in Italy, the Vatican secretary of state this week imposed a new vaccine mandate on Vatican staff, extending it to all employees except those who have recovered from Covid-19.

Previously, only employees who dealt with the public directly had to be vaccinated, such as the staff of the Vatican Museums and the Swiss Guards. Other Vatican employees could access their offices with regular testing. Now, there is no test-out exemption.