VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican has sent hundreds of thousands of medical masks to China to help it deal with the coronavirus outbreak, with each bag marked with Pope Francis’ coat of arms.
The official Vatican News website said the initiative was carried out jointly by the office of papal charities and a missionary center in Italy for Chinese Catholics.
The masks, packed in bags of 10, have been sent to Jubei, Zhejiand and Fujian provinces, Vatican News said.
Pope Francis has praised China’s “great commitment” to contain the coronavirus outbreak and said he was praying for the dead, the sick, and families of victims.
After decades of chilly relations, ties between the Vatican and Beijing have improved since September, 2018 when they signed a pact on the naming of bishops.
Conservative Catholics have objected to the pact, accusing the Vatican of having sold out to the communist government.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella, Editing by Angus MacSwan)