Our Holy Father is inviting at this very moment to unite our prayers to his by calling us to join him on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at noon, Italian time (7:00 AM New York time). He made the appeal after praying the noonday Angelus on March 22, broadcast from Apostolic Library in the Vatican. The Pope also announced that on the following Friday, March 27, at 6:00 PM (1:00 PM New York Time) he will preside over a moment of prayer. The Pope said:
“I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication”.
The ceremony will consist in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.
The Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et orbi blessing is subject to the conditions foreseen by the recent Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
“In these days of trial, while humanity trembles because of the pandemic’s menace, I would like to propose to all Christians to unite their voices to Heaven,” the Pope said after Sunday’s Angelus. “I invite all the Heads of Churches and the leaders of all the Christian Communities, together with all the Christians of the various Confessions, to invoke the Most High, Almighty God, reciting contemporaneously the prayer that Jesus Our Lord taught us. I invite all, therefore, to do so several times a day, but, all together, to recite the Our Father next Wednesday, March 25, at midday – all together.
“On the day in which many Christians recall the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word, may the Lord be able to hear the unanimous prayer of all His disciples that are preparing to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ. With this same intention, next Friday, March 27 at 6:00 pm, I will preside over a moment of prayer in the courtyard of St. Peter’s Basilica, with the empty Square. From now on I invite all to take part spiritually through the means of communication. We will listen to the Word of God, we will elevate our prayer, we will adore the Most Blessed Sacrament, with which at the end I will give the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, to which will be annexed the possibility to receive a Plenary Indulgence.
The gift of special indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from the COVID-19 sickness, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health workers, their relatives and all those that take care of them in any capacity.
“Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12. The words written by Saint Paul to the Church of Rome resound throughout the history of the Church and orient the judgment of the faithful in face of every suffering, sickness, and calamity.
The present moment that the whole of humanity is going through, threatened by an invisible and insidious sickness, which for some time has entered arrogantly to form part of everyone’s life, is marked out day after day by anguished fears, new uncertainties and, above all, generalized physical and moral suffering.
Following the example of her Divine Teacher, the Church has always been concerned to take care of the sick. As Saint John Paul II pointed out, the value of human suffering is twofold: “Supernatural and, at the same time, human. It is supernatural, because it is rooted in the divine mystery of the world’s Redemption, and it is also profoundly human, because in it man finds himself, his own humanity, his own dignity, and his own mission.” (Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, 31).
In these last days, Pope Francis has also manifested his paternal closeness and renewed his invitation to pray incessantly for the sick with Coronavirus.
So that all those suffering from COVID-19, precisely in the mystery of this suffering, may be able to rediscover “the same redeeming suffering of Christ: (Ibid., 30), this Apostolic Penitentiary, ex auctoritate Summi Pontificis, trusting in the word of Christ the Lord and considering with a spirit faith the present epidemic underway, to live it with a spirit of personal conversion, grants the gift of the Indulgences in accordance with the following disposition.
A Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful sick with Coronavirus, subjected to quarantine by order of the Health Authority in hospital or in their own homes, if, with a spirit detached from any sin, united spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the prayer of the Holy Rosary, the pious practice of the Via Crucis or other forms of devotion, or if at least they pray the Creed, the Our Father and a pious invocation to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, offering this trial with a spirit of faith in God and of charity to brethren, and with the will to fulfill the usual conditions (Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father), as soon as it is possible for them.
Health agents, their relatives and all those that, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of infection, take care of the sick with Coronavirus, according to the words of the Divine Redeemer: ”Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence in the same conditions.
Moreover, this Apostolic Penitentiary willingly grants also, with the same conditions, the Plenary Indulgence on the occasion of the present global epidemic, to those faithful that offer to visit the Most Blessed Sacrament or Eucharistic Adoration, or the praying of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Via Crucis , or the praying of the Divine Mercy chaplet, to implore Almighty God for an end to the epidemic, the relief of the afflicted, and the eternal salvation of those that the Lord has called to Himself.
The Church prays for those unable to receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and the Viaticum, entrusting each and all of them to Divine Mercy, in virtue of the Communion of Saints, and grants a Plenary Indulgence at the point of death so long as they are duly disposed and have prayed some prayers during their life (in this case, the Church supplies the three usual required conditions). To obtain this indulgence, the use of a crucifix or of a cross is recommended (Cf. Enchiridion Indulgentiarum , n. 12).
May the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, Health of the Sick and Help of Christians, our Advocate, help suffering humanity, driving away from us the evil of this pandemic and obtaining every necessary good for our salvation and sanctification.
The present Decree is valid regardless of any disposition to the contrary.
Given in Rome, from the headquarters of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on March 19, 2020.
Mauro Cardinal Piacenza