In his weekly Angelus message on Sunday, Pope Francis called on the world to unite in prayer to end the COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) pandemic and stated he will offer an extraordinary blessing.
Those faithful who attend chapels administered by the United States District of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) are encouraged to unite themselves in prayer with the Pope.
The Pope’s Blessing
Speaking on television and over the Internet, the Sovereign Pontiff stated his intention to offer the Urbi et Orbi (“to the city of Rome and the world”) blessing from an empty St. Peter’s Square this Friday. This extraordinary blessing is normally reserved for Easter and Christmas. However, due to the ravages of the Coronavirus pandemic, particularly in Italy which now has the highest virus-induced death toll in the world, the Pope has decided to act for the spiritual good of the faithful.
On Friday March 27, 2020 at 6:00pm Rome time, Pope Francis will preside over a prayer service from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. While the square will remain empty, the Pontiff encouraged people from all over the world “to participate spiritually” in this service, which will include scriptural readings and Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The Pope also encouraged everyone to participate through the “means of communication” available to them, such as radio, television, and the Internet.
At the close of this service, Pope Francis announced he would deliver the Urbi et Orbi blessing with the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, “the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence” would accompany this service and blessing.
A Call to Unite in Prayer
Pope Francis also took the occasion of his Angelus message to invite “the heads of the churches and the leaders of all the Christian communities, together with all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the All Powerful God, by reciting contemporaneously the prayer that Our Lord Jesus has taught us.” The Pope continued:
I therefore invite everyone to recite the Our Father at midday [noon Rome time] on March 25 next, on the day when many Christians recall the annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word, so that the Lord may listen to the unanimous prayer of all his disciples that are preparing to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.
The Pope’s Angelus message came just days after the Apostolic Penitentiary issued a decree on gaining a plenary indulgence during the Coronavirus pandemic and offering guidelines on when general absolution may be appropriate where the virus has thwarted the possibility of priests hearing individual confessions.