“Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities,” said Pope Francis Friday in his Urbi et Orbi (To the City [Rome] and the World) address from St. Peter’s Square.
Standing on a platform protected from the rain, he spoke of the coronavirus pandemic that had resulted in 86,000 cases and more than 9,100 deaths in Italy. “It has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by,” he said.
“We feel it in the air,” he continued. “We notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm.”
The square, usually filled to capacity for his addresses, was empty. But his blessing was live-streamed on social media and broadcast around the world on television and radio to more than 11 million people.
“The pandemic has reminded us that we are all in the same boat,” he said. “The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules.”
An Urbi et Orbi is usually delivered only at Christmas and Easter and when a new Pope is elected.
It is a blessing to which a Plenary Indulgence is granted to all 11 million viewers of the address.
“From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the world, may the blessing of God, like a consoling embrace, descend upon you,” the pope said.
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