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Coronavirus threat cancels event celebrating pope's anniversary


Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, is pictured in a July 4, 2017, photo. The archbishop announced March 9, 2020, that due to coronavirus threats in the U.S., he and the permanent observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States have canceled a celebration scheduled for Friday March 13 to mark the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Due to coronavirus threats in the U.S., the U.S. apostolic nuncio and the permanent observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States have canceled a celebration scheduled for March 13 to mark the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Francis.

The announcement was made March 9 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, who said the cancellation was a "prudent action" that was being taken "as a precaution in consideration of the information provided by national and local health officials."

"There are no cases of the virus here at the nunciature," the announcement said, adding that other Catholic institutions have similarly called off events at this time because of the coronavirus threats.

The number of confirmed U.S. cases of coronavirus has risen to more than 550 as of March 8 with nine in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area.

The nunciature traditionally has marked the anniversary of the papal election with a reception for invited guests. The announcement of the canceled anniversary celebration thanked people for their understanding of the decision and urged them to pray for all those affected by the coronavirus.

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