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Indian bishops plan national Covid prayer service

The CCBI says the event aims to express solidarity with those affected by the pandemic

Indian bishops plan national Covid prayer service

Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, secretary-general of the CCBI, leads a procession during the annual rally on Palm Sunday in Delhi on April 9, 2017. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

India’s Latin-rite Catholic bishops’ council has urged the faithful to join a national Covid-19 prayer service.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) is holding the prayer service to express solidarity with those affected by the pandemic. 

“We are all going through a very difficult time and many of us are facing seriously challenging situations on account of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Those who lost their dear ones to the virus had to resign themselves to having a dismal funeral rite accorded to their beloved. Many are still in the hospitals, struggling under the grip of the invisible enemy. Many others lost their jobs and are finding it hard to make ends meet,” a July 10 CCBI circular said.

The CCBI resolved to organize the prayer meet “with a view to pray for the departed souls, express solidarity with the grieving families and communities and pray for the health of the world.”

The CCBI, which represents 132 Latin-rite dioceses, said the one-hour prayer service will be held from Aug. 7, starting at 8.30pm.

The event will be conducted from the tombs of St. Thomas in Tamil Nadu, St. Francis Xavier in Goa and St. Teresa of Kolkata and from the Marian basilicas of Bandra, Mumbai, Sardhana in Meerut, Hyderabad, Shivajinagar in Bangalore and Vailankanni in Tamil Nadu.

The CCBI urged families and religious communities to join the prayer service

The prayer service with a Eucharistic benediction will be telecast on Catholic satellite television channels including Shalom TV, Goodness TV, Madha TV, Prarthana Bhavan TV and Dhiyavani TV. It will also be streamed through leading Catholic YouTube channels, the circular said.

The CCBI urged families and religious communities to join the prayer service and asked for the event to be shared with family members abroad.

It also requested dioceses, religious congregations, associations and movements to refrain from organizing any meeting or program during this time to avoid clashes of events.

This is not the first time the Church in India and around the globe has organized a prayer service during the pandemic.

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Last year, when the pandemic first hit the world, Pope Francis led a prayer service in Italy and invited Catholics and Marian shrines around the world to a prayer marathon during the Marian month of May for an end to the pandemic.

In India this year, Christians observed May 7 as a day of fasting and prayer for deliverance from the second wave of the contagion.

The Catholic Church in India comprises the Latin rite and two Oriental rites — Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara.

The Latin rite follows the Roman liturgy introduced by European missioners in the 16th century, while the two Oriental rites, both based in Kerala state, follow Syrian Church traditions and trace their origins to St. Thomas the Apostle.

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