Pope FrancisPope FrancisRetired pope says he hopes to soon join friends in 'the afterlife' Religion and the G-20: With faith, we can move mountains The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle 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.
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.