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Prayers during a pandemic

Pope Francis urges prayers on feast of St. Joseph, bishops compile resources to help the faithful

Update: March 23

Pope asks for prayers worldwide, March 25 and March 28

On Wednesday, March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis is asking Christians around the world to pray the Our Father at noon (7 a.m.Miami time), as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards heaven,” he said after reciting the Angelus March 22. He suggested the Our Father, “the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us.”

He also announced that on Friday, March 27, at 6 p.m. (1 p.m. Miami time), he will preside over a moment of prayer on the front steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. The ceremony will consist of readings from the scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It will conclude with Pope Francis giving a special Urbi et Orbi Blessing.

All those who listen to the prayer service live through the various forms of communication will have the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence. The Urbi et Orbi Blessing — “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” — is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

For information on the requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence, click here or see below.


Update: March 21

Church grants special indulgence to coronavirus patients and caregivers

VATICAN CITY | On March 20, the Apostolic Penitentiary issued a decree granting plenary indulgences to “the faithful suffering from the Covid-19 virus, commonly known as coronavirus, as well as to healthcare workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.”

The document comes in response to pastoral, spiritual and sacramental concerns for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has raised “new uncertainties and above all widespread physical and moral suffering.”

The decree is signed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and the Regent, Father Krzysztof Nykiel.



The decree grants a plenary indulgence to coronavirus patients quarantined by health authorities in hospitals and in their homes if, “with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite themselves spiritually through the media to the celebration of the Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion.”

The plenary indulgence can also be obtained by the faithful if they at least “recite the creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfill the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy father’s intentions), as soon as possible.”

A plenary indulgence is also granted to healthcare workers, family members and all those who, “exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick” under the same conditions stated above.

Also, the faithful who offer a “visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or read the Holy Scriptures for half an hour, or recite the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy” while praying for an end to the pandemic will be granted a plenary indulgence.



In a note accompanying the decree, the Apostolic Penitentiary provided for some eventualities linked with providing the Sacrament of Reconciliation for those affected by the Covid-19 virus.

The note explained that the diocesan bishop has complete discretion over the administration of collective absolution except where there is an “imminent danger of death” or a “grave necessity.” Individual confession remains the ordinary way of celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Also, if there is need to impart absolution to several faithful, the priest is obliged to inform the diocesan bishop as soon as possible.

Bishops are also tasked with evaluating the level of the pandemic in their respective jurisdictions to be able to set up prudent protocols for the individual celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation that safeguards the sacramental seal.

The note also encouraged setting up groups of voluntary “extraordinary hospital chaplains” who, obeying health norms and in agreement with health authorities, can provide spiritual assistance to the sick and dying.



According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an indulgence is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.” Indulgences are either partial or plenary depending on if they remove part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.

Source: Vatican News



Turn to St. Joseph 

VATICAN CITY | Pope Francis has urged the faithful to invoke St. Joseph — whose feast day is March 19 — during these difficult times. His comments came during his live-streamed general audience March 18.

The pope appealed for prayer, especially the rosary, during the current health crisis. He embraced the appeal for prayers of the Italian bishops.

“I make my own the appeal of the Italian bishops who in this health emergency have promoted a moment of prayer for the whole country. Every family, every faithful, every religious community, all united spiritually tomorrow at 9 p.m. (4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) for the recitation of the rosary, with the Mysteries of Light. I will accompany you from here. Mary, Mother of God, Health of the Sick, leads us to the luminous and transfigured face of Jesus Christ and to his Heart. We turn to her with the prayer of the rosary, under the loving gaze of St. Joseph, Custodian of the Holy Family and of our families. And we ask him to guard our family, our families, in a special way, in particular the sick and the persons taking care of the sick: the doctors, the men and women nurses, the volunteers, who risk their lives in this service.”

Source: Vatican News

Prayer from Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus are distributing a Prayer for Protection in Time of Pandemic. Click on the image above to download the PDF.


Resources for use at home

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has compiled resources to help the faithful remain in prayer during the coronavirus pandemic. These are posted at:

The bishops’ Public Affairs and Episcopal Resources teams are partnering also with the Office of Divine Worship, the Office of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and other conference colleagues to develop new resources to help the faithful in their home prayer. These are being prepared for Catholic Current, which may be found here:

In addition, the USCCB, as well as the Confraternity on Christine Doctrine (CCD) and the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), have waived permission requirements for prayers and readings in both English and Spanish to allow dioceses to livestream Masses during this time as social distancing measures are implemented.


Worldwide day of solidarity

Women religious across the globe are calling for a Day of Worldwide Solidarity and Prayer March 22, to express closeness to those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now is the time for each one of us to respond to the worldwide coronavirus crisis by being in solidarity with others, especially with those who are most vulnerable and most at risk,” said a statement signed by Sister Jolanta Kafka of the Religious of Mary Immaculate, president of the International Union of Superiors General.

Sister Jolanta noted that it is the time to follow the directives provided by the World Health Organization and each government. But, she added, it is also a “special time for prayer and for witnessing through practical solidarity and awareness, our responsibility to care for one another.”

“This extraordinary time,” she said, “provides space for acts of generosity and expressions of gratitude especially to those who are in the front line caring for the sick and those engaged in research projects searching for remedies, and those at work in the public services. No matter who they are or where they are, they should know that they are in the thoughts and prayers of sisters worldwide.”

Source: Vatican News

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