COVID One Year Later: Catholic Bishops Across Europe Offer Masses and Lenten Prayer for Victims of Pandemic

The initiative will conclude on April 1, Holy Thursday, with prayers in Hungary and at the CCEE’s Secretariat in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

A prayer for COVID-19 victims at Westminster Cathedral in London, England, pictured July 3, 2020.
A prayer for COVID-19 victims at Westminster Cathedral in London, England, pictured July 3, 2020. (photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.)

ROME — Catholic bishops across Europe have been joining together in prayer throughout Lent for victims of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bishops belonging to the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) will form “a Eucharistic chain” of prayer for the more than 770,000 people who have died from COVID-19 in Europe. 

Launching the initiative, CCEE president Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said: “Together, we have assessed the opportunity, or rather the need, to remember in the Holy Mass in a particular way during this season of Lent, the numerous victims of the pandemic.”

“Each European bishops’ conference has engaged in the organization of at least one Mass. It will be like creating a prayer chain, a Eucharistic chain in memory and in suffrage of so many people.” 

He added: “In this prayer, we also want to remember the bereaved families and all those who are still suffering from the virus and whose lives remain in uncertainty.”

The initiative began in Albania and Austria on Feb. 17, Ash Wednesday, continuing with prayers in Belgium and Belarus. 

Catholics in England and Wales are prayed collectively for coronavirus victims on March 2. CCEE vice president Cardinal Vincent Nichols marked the occasion with a live-streamed Mass in Westminster Cathedral.

Polish Catholics took part in the initiative on March 15, when Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, led prayers at the archbishopric chapel in Poznań. 

The initiative will conclude on April 1, Holy Thursday, with prayers in Hungary and at the CCEE’s Secretariat in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The CCEE, which was officially established in 1971, has 39 members, comprising European 33 bishops’ conferences, the archbishops of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite archbishop of Cyprus, the bishop of Chişinău, Moldova, the eparchial bishop of Mukachevo, in western Ukraine, and the apostolic administrator of Estonia.

Archbishop Bagnasco of Genoa, Italy, said: “We, the bishops of Europe, are all united alongside our Christian communities and our priests. We are grateful to all those who continue to devote themselves to those most in need.” 

“We support them with our words, and above all, with our prayers so that their commitment and their hope that we must all have, maintain and increase can help us to look forward together to a better future.”

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