Pope Francis is leading a prayer from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome today March 27 (March 28 ,6 am NZ time) where he will confer a plenary indulgence and the Urbi et Orbi blessing.
Pope Francis is inviting everyone, Catholics and the rest of the world, to unite in praying for the end of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Urbi et Orbi ( to the city of Rome and to the world) is a formal blessing usually given only at Christmas and Easter or immediately after a new pope is elected.
Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa told NZ Catholic that the Holy See has asked all the bishops to inform everyone of the Pope’s invitation.
“This is an act of worship and prayer, imploring God’s mercy and intervention in what we are experiencing worldwide. It is in this context of fighting against the spread of this virus which is devastating and afflicting almost all the people in other countries now. We are asking them to come together as people of God,” he said.
The nuncio explained this is a special blessing, because it is not only for Catholics whom the Pope leads in service, but for every person of faith.
“It is not Mass. It is just an appointment of prayers. That is the first part will be the proclamation of the Word of God, some meditation on that, this will be followed by adoration of [the] Blessed Sacrament. After that, the Holy Father will confer and declare the indulgence that will go with this action. After that he will give the blessing,” Archbishop Rugambwa explained.
The plenary indulgence is for those who follow on television, radio or Internet. However, those who are receiving the indulgence should be sorry for their sins and go to confession and receive communion as soon as they are able.
The nuncio observed there are countries where the medical system is probably not as good as it is here in New Zealand. He said coming together in prayer “could be a way to help and show our solidarity, not only physically but also spiritually”.
“We hope this will help. That is the special element of this appeal of the Holy Father for prayer,” he said.
“Pray together. This trial that we are facing, we can’t do anything. We are not in control of the situation in this world. No matter how intelligent we might look and seem strong. But there is no doubt we need something supernatural, some supernatural element in our life in our way of tackling our problems.”