Pope Francis appealed to people to heed what the authorities ask in times of coronavirus. “May the things the government ask you to do for the good of us all be accomplished,” he said at the end of the Angelus insisting that they were for the common good.
Whilst appealing for unity in these trying times, the Pope said it was important to show solidarity with the people feeling lonely and tried, and to doctors, health workers, nurses, volunteers who are at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus as well as to the authorities who must take tough measures, the policemen, to the soldiers, who seek on the streets to keep order, he added.
Pope Francis made the surprise announcement in his weekly Angelus message, which he has been delivering from inside the Vatican over the internet and television instead of before crowds in St. Peter’s Square.
His decision to make an exception and give a special “Urbi et Orbi” blessing underscored the gravity of the situation worldwide but particularly in Italy, which has overtaken China as the country hardest hit by the virus outbreak.
The pope said that on Friday evening he would deliver the extraordinary blessing from an empty St. Peter’s Square. The square, which is part of the Vatican, has been closed as part of a lockdown in Italy to try to contain the spread of the virus.
Catholics who receive the blessing, either in person or via the media, can, under certain conditions, receive a special indulgence. An indulgence is remission of punishment for sins.
Francis also called on all Christians around the world to stop at noon Italian time on Wednesday to pray the “Our Father” together.
“We want to respond to the pandemic of the virus with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness,” he said from the papal library. “Let’s remain united”.
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