The “urbi et orbi” blessing includes the possibility for a plenary indulgence.
On March 22, after praying the midday Angelus, Pope Francis made two calls to prayer. The first for an Our Father, prayed together by all Christians, on March 25 at noon.
The second, a prayer service that the Holy Father led from St. Peter’s on Friday, March 27, beginning at 6pm, Rome time.
He said that he would spend some time alone at St. Peter’s and invited all the faithful to tune in through broadcasts of the event. Francis explained that there would be a Liturgy of the Word, as well as adoration and benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.
He said he will give a special “urbi et orbi” apostolic blessing — “to the City of Rome and the world” — with the possibility of attaining a plenary indulgence. While the normal conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence include sacramental Confession and Communion, during the pandemic, those conditions have been altered to when it again becomes possible.
The possibility for the indulgence has for several decades now been extended to those who are tuned in to the ceremony through radio, television or other means. On this occasion, of course, that will be nearly everyone who receives the blessing.
The urbi et orbi blessings are usually given on solemn occasions — Christmas, Easter, and when a new pope is elected, as his first blessing for the world.
Francis has been giving benediction with the Blessed Sacrament at the end of his daily Masses in Casa Santa Marta, which during this time of pandemic, are being live-streamed.