Pope Francis has ordered nuns to go home to the United States and a handful of other countries in light of the recent outbreak of the H1N1 flu pandemic.
The Vatican statement came in a speech Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, which is the holiest spot in the world.
The Pope’s order comes on the heels of the first case of the virus in the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom has now reported five new cases, and officials said Thursday that they will announce the country’s first death toll.
Francis also told the crowd that the Pope’s brother, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, will head the Vatican bank and that Pope Francis will be the first pontiff to lead the Vatican.
Francis made the remarks in front of hundreds of thousands of faithful, including some of the world’s most prominent religious figures.
In the same speech, Francis also urged the U.S. and other nations to continue to “build the strong foundations of our country” and “keep faith with each other.”
“As a mother of two daughters, I know how important it is for you to be well and to not give up,” he said.
“We can overcome this illness.
We can overcome these challenges, because we have the power to help one another.”
Francis, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and now resides in Rome, said he will continue to visit countries with the world, including Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala and Peru.
The announcement comes after Francis announced in January that he was stepping down from his role as the pontiff.
On Saturday, he issued an open letter to Catholics around the world urging them to “live a life of mercy” in a bid to spread the disease.
The letter said the disease, which was first detected in the U, U.K., Italy and France in late April, has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide.
The virus has not yet been confirmed in the continental United States.
The outbreak began with a coronavirus outbreak in the Czech Republic, but it was later brought to the U.
“He also warned that the virus may be able to spread to other countries, saying “the threat is real and we must act quickly.
“In a letter to the pope on Saturday, U!
magazine called the announcement a “dangerous step backward.”