ROME — Pope Francis called on all Christians to unite in raising the voices to heaven, proposing a “unanimous prayer” to be offered on March 25.
“In these days of trial, as humanity trembles over the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians to join in raising their voices to Heaven,” the pope said following his Angelus prayer on Sunday.
The pontiff went on to urge all Christians to join him in reciting the Lord’s Prayer on the upcoming feast of the Annunciation, when Christians the world over commemorate the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary, nine months prior to the celebration of Christmas.
“I invite all the heads of the churches and the leaders of all the Christian communities, together with all Christians of whatever denomination, to invoke the most high, almighty God, while reciting the prayer that Jesus Our Lord taught us,” the pope said.
“I therefore invite everyone to do so several times a day, but, all together, to recite Our Father next Wednesday, March 25th at noon, all together,” he continued. “On the day when many Christians remember the announcement to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word, may the Lord hear the unanimous prayer of all his disciples as they prepare to celebrate the victory of the risen Christ.”
“With this same intention, next Friday, March 27th, at 6 pm, I will preside over a moment of prayer in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, with the square empty,” Francis said. “From now on I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the media.”
“We will listen to the Word of God; we will raise our petition; we will worship the Blessed Sacrament, with which at the end I will give the Urbi et Orbi blessing, which carries with it the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence,” he said.
The pope has urged the Church’s pastors to stay close to the faithful and to be sure that they are able to receive the sacraments.
“It is good for the churches to remain open. Priests should be on the front lines,” the pope wrote in a letter signed by his personal secretary. “The faithful should find courage and comfort from seeing their shepherds. They should know that they can run in any moment and find refuge in their churches and parishes and find them open and welcoming.”
“The Church must truly be missionary, for instance by setting up a hotline that anyone can call to find comfort, to ask for the sacrament of Confession or Holy Communion or to ask for it for their loved ones,” he said.
In his message Sunday, the pope said that Christians must respond to the coronavirus pandemic “with the universality of prayer, compassion, and tenderness.”
“Let us stay united. Let us make our closeness felt to the loneliest and most tried people,” he said.
“Our closeness to doctors, health workers, nurses and volunteers. Our closeness to the authorities who must take harsh measures, but for our own good,” he continued. “Our closeness to the policemen, to the soldiers on the street who always try to maintain order, so that the things that the government asks to do for the good of all of us are done.”