Pope Francis delivers special prayer for end to coronavirus pandemic

Pope FrancisPope FrancisPope thanked Texas priest who took a knee at protest to pray for George Floyd Pope condemns racism, says street violence is 'self-defeating' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US MORE on Friday delivered an "urbi et orbi" prayer, usually reserved for solemn church occasions, to pray for the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

An urbi et orbi — "from the city [Rome] to the world" — is a prayer that can only be delivered by a pope, and is usually reserved for Easter, Christmas, and the installation of a new pope.

The prayer carries special meaning for Catholics, as it can grant plenary indulgences — spiritual pardons — to a group selected by the pope.

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Francis on Friday granted plenary indulgences to the faithful infected by the coronavirus, those in quarantine, family members, health care workers and people who've risked their health to help coronavirus patients.

"We find ourselves afraid and lost," said Francis, speaking from the square in front of St. Peter's Basilica, known as the Sagrato.

He delivered the extraordinary message on a roofed stage in an otherwise empty square in the rain.

Italy, which surrounds the Holy See, has been the hardest-hit country in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 85,000 sick and more than 9,000 dead, out of a population of 60 million.

Francis called on people to work together to weather the pandemic.

"We are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed," he said.

"All of us called to row together, each of us in need of each other," added Francis.