Pope says fight virus with 'pandemic of prayer'

Pope Francis delivering his Angelus address Sunday

 VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis Sunday urged Christians to "reply to the pandemic of the virus with the pandemic of prayer, compassion and tenderness," asking the faithful to say the Lord's Prayer on Wednesday, the Annunciation, and to join him spiritually Friday when he will preside over a moment of special prayer from St Peter's Basilica.

"Dear brothers and sisters, in these days of trial, as humanity trembles for the threat of the pandemic, I want to propose to all Chritistians to unite their voices toward Heaven," the pontiff said in his weekly Angelus address beamed to millions by videolink from the library in the papal apartments.
 "I invite all the heads of Churches and leaders of all Christian communities, together with all Christians of different confessions, to invoke the Most High, omnipotent God, reciting at the same time the prayer that Our Lord Jesus taught us," Francis said.
 "I therefore invite everyone to recite the Our Father next Wednesday March 25 at midday."
"In the day that many Christians recall the annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the incarnation of the Word, may the Lord here the unanimous prayer of all his disciples who prepare for the victory of the Resurrected Christ," the Argentine pope said.
 "With the same intention, next Friday March 27, at 1800 hours, I will preside over a moment of prayer on the porch of the empty St. Peter's Basilica.
 "From now I Invite everyone to take part spiritually through the communications media. We will listen to the Word of God, we will lift up our supplication, we will adore the Most Holy Sacrament, with which at the end I will give the Urbi et Orbi (to the City and the World) blessing, to which will be annexed the possibility to receive the plenary indulgence," Francis added.
 "To the pandemic of the virus we want to reply with the pandemic of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness. Let us stay united. Make our closeness felt to the people who are most alone and tested."
 Francis added that "I express my closeness to the pupulation of Croatia, hit this morning  by an earthquake. May the Risen Lord give them the strength and the solidarity to overcome this calamity ..."
Francis ended his remarks with his traditional salute:  "I wish everyone a good Sunday.  Don't forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and arriverdeci."
 jp