Pope Francis to lead prayers in response to Covid-19 pandemic

Pope calls for world prayer to stop coronavirus will deliver special blessing

"Let us think about them and pray for them", Pope Francis said.

"May the Lord hear the unanimous prayer of all his disciples who are preparing to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ", he said.

The Pope also announced that on the following Friday, 27 March, he will preside over a moment of prayer on the sagrato of St Peter's Basilica, the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the façade of the Church.

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience as it is streamed via video over the internet from a library inside the Vatican on March 18, 2020. The respiratory disease, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to 157 countries, and has led to the deaths of 13,407 people worldwide. "We will listen to the Word of God, we will elevate our prayer, we will adore the Most Blessed Sacrament, with which at the end I will give the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, to which will be annexed the possibility to receive a Plenary Indulgence", Pope Francis said.

An indulgence is an ancient practice of prayer and penance for the remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven.

The Vatican department charged with matters of conscience, the Apostolic Penitentiary, announced on Thursday (March 19) that it would be offering indulgences for all those affected by the coronavirus and the medical workers who are the most exposed to contracting it. While the normal conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence include sacramental Confession and Communion, during the pandemic, those conditions have been altered to when it again becomes possible.

"Let us pray today for those persons who are beginning to experience economic problems because of the pandemic, because they can not work", he said in his prayer intention.

"In these hard days, when mankind is in fear because of the pandemic, I would suggest to all Christians that together we have cried out to the Heavens... a day when many Christians remember the Annunciation to the virgin Mary, may the Lord will hear the United prayers of all His students, "said the Pope".

If the Lord makes us wait, the Pope said, He does so "for our good". This miraculous sign is the confirmation of Jesus's claim about himself: "'I am the light of the world, ' the light that illuminates our darkness", Pope Francis said.

He referred to the Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Lent, from John's gospel, where Jesus heals a man blind from birth. "The Lent that we are living is an opportune and precious time to approach the Lord, asking for his mercy, in the different forms that Mother Church offers us", Francis said.



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