By Melissa Butz
Pope Francis has just made history as the very first pope to give an “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to an empty St. Peter’s Square, with the faithful virtually following the event.
He prayed for an end to the coronavirus.
Pope Francis’ extraordinary moment of prayer at the Vatican included a Gospel reading, adoration, and a blessing and plenary indulgence for “the city [of Rome] and the world.”
The Holy Father addressed the faithful via live-stream, saying the world seems “covered in darkness,” and full of fear. He cried that mankind has been marked by greed and haste, wars and injustice.
“We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick,” he said. “Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you, ‘Wake up, Lord!’”
This Lent, the pontiff assured, God is urgently calling humanity to unity and conversion.
“It is not the time of your judgment, but of our judgment: a time to choose what matters. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to You, Lord, and to others,” Pope Francis said.
To help the faithful with this, he imparted the Urbi et Orbi blessing, only used for a papal election, Easter or Christmas.
It offers a plenary indulgence, which can be obtained with four steps: Detachment from sin, confession, receiving the Eucharist, and prayers for the pope.
In light of the pandemic, the Vatican has waved the middle two, saying the faithful may fulfill them when possible.
Pope Francis prayed for bodily health and consolation for hearts during this difficult moment.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy, and around the world, Pope Francis has sought ways – like this – to connect with the faithful spiritually, despite the quarantine, church closures and lack of sacraments.