Pope Francis removes his mask as he touches worshippers and vows to defeat ...

Pope Francis removes his mask as he touches worshippers and vows to defeat coronavirus with love at a 'limited' public audience at the Vatican as he steps up his return to normal duties Pope was all smiles as he shook hands and touched foreheads on Wednesday The 83-year-old removed his mask as he arrived at the San Damaso courtyard Despite socially-distanced seating, there was scrumming at barrier to meet him The Argentine pontiff gave a sermon on defeating coronavirus with God's love

By Ross Ibbetson For Mailonline

Published: 11:00 BST, 9 September 2020 | Updated: 11:21 BST, 9 September 2020

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Pope Francis today removed his mask and reached out to touch the faithful, both young and old, at a 'limited' public audience at the Vatican.

The 83-year-old, who resumed his Wednesday General Audience's last week, told the packed San Damaso courtyard that the coronavirus would be defeated by God's love.

The pontiff removed his mask when he stepped out of his car, he smiled and chatted, shook hands and touched the foreheads of congregants who scrummed at the barriers. 

'The Christian response to the pandemic and to the consequent socio-economic crisis is based on love,' Francis told the masses as he reflected on 'Healing the World' in his sermon. 

Pope Francis blesses a child as he arrives at the San Damaso courtyard for the weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday

Pope Francis blesses a child as he arrives at the San Damaso courtyard for the weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday

Pope Francis greets babies at the San Damaso courtyard for the weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday

Pope Francis greets babies at the San Damaso courtyard for the weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday

Pope Francis takes off his face mask as he arrives by car to hold a limited public audience at the San Damaso courtyard

The Pope playfully tries on a hat given to him by a follower

Pope Francis takes off his face mask as he arrives (left) and he playfully dons a hat (right) given to him by a worshipper at the San Damaso courtyard

A boy reaches out to shake hands with the pontiff as many others crowd at the barrier to meet him

A boy reaches out to shake hands with the pontiff as many others crowd at the barrier to meet him

The Argentine beams at the congregants assembled in San Damaso courtyard on Wednesday

The Argentine beams at the congregants assembled in San Damaso courtyard on Wednesday

The Pope said we could emerge from the coronavirus improved by it 'if we all seek the common good together.'

But he referred to 'partisan interests emerging' which showed that some just wanted to selfishly

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