Pope to offer special blessing, calls for worldwide prayer

Pope to offer special blessing, calls for worldwide prayer
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Pope FrancisPope FrancisPope calls for cooperation on coronavirus vaccine development, international sharing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, Congress close to deal on new coronavirus bill Pope calls for inequalities to be abolished after 'time of trial' MORE announced Sunday that he will offer his “Urbi et Orbi” special blessing Friday as the coronavirus pandemic continues worldwide.

The pope said he plans to offer the blessing traditionally only given at Christmas and Easter this Friday as the COVID-19 outbreak has infected hundreds of thousands and disrupted societies around the globe, Reuters reported

He made his announcement in his weekly Angelus message, which is typically given in St. Peter’s Square, which has been closed off to the public. The pope instead delivered his message from inside the Vatican and online. 

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Friday’s blessing will be delivered in an empty St. Peter’s Square. Catholics can receive a special indulgence in person or online, which is a remission of punishment for sins. 

The pope also requested Christians around the world say the “Our Father” prayer at noon Italian time.

“We want to respond to the pandemic of the virus with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness,” he said, according to Reuters. “Let’s remain united”.

The change in tradition reflects the significance of the pandemic, Reuters noted. Italy, which encompasseds Vatican City, has the most recorded deaths of any country, including China where the virus is believed to have originated. Italy has counted more than 59,000 cases and 5,476 deaths. 

COVID-19 has spread to infect more than 328,000 and killed more than 14,300 worldwide.