Vatican Invites Catholics to Pray for Peace in Good Friday Liturgy

The Vatican Congregation’s latest note urged Catholics during Holy Week liturgies 'to be prudent and avoid actions and behavior that could potentially be a risk,' (for COVID-19) while not giving specific recommendations.

Pope Francis venerates the Cross on Good Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Pope Francis venerates the Cross on Good Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica. (photo: Daniel Ibáñez / CNA/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s liturgy office said on Friday that it would not be issuing COVID-19 guidelines for Holy Week liturgies this year, and invited Catholics to join in the Church’s prayers for peace.

“In view of the ongoing slowdown of the pandemic, albeit at different rates in individual countries, we do not intend to offer any further guidelines for the Holy Week celebrations,” the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said in a note to bishops on March 25.

“The experience that the episcopal conferences have gained in recent years is certainly sufficient to deal with the various situations in the most appropriate ways, always taking care to observe the ritual norms contained in the liturgical books,” the note said.

The Congregation also pointed out some of the Church’s solemn intentions for the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and their connection to the present Russia-Ukraine war.

“The liturgy invites us to raise our petitions to God for the Church and for the whole world," it explained. “In the Solemn Intercessions we will invoke the Lord for those in public office (prayer IX) that our God and Lord may direct their minds and hearts according to his will for the true peace and freedom of all, and for those in tribulation (prayer X) that all may rejoice, because in their hour of need your mercy was at hand.”

“Let us now make these prayers our own for all our brothers and sisters who are experiencing the horror of war, particularly in Ukraine,” the Congregation urged.

The note to bishops also pointed to a statement in the Roman Missal, the Church’s liturgical book, which says that “in a situation of grave public need, the diocesan bishop may permit or order the addition of a special intention.”

A liturgical institute in Salzburg, Austria, has published a text, in consultation with the Austrian bishops’ conference, for an additional solemn intercession for Ukraine to be prayed in churches in the country on Good Friday.

The text of the prayer intention, published on the Pray Tell blog, reads: “Let us pray for the people in Ukraine and in all war zones of the world, for those who have fled the dread of violence and have been deprived of their homes, for all women and men who stand up with their lives to ward off evil and to protect the weak and the persecuted. Let us kneel. — Let us stand.” 

“Almighty and eternal God, you have compassion for the lowly and the poor, but you throw down oppressors. As you guided Israel out of slavery in Egypt, so save in our days all victims of war and violence. Change the hearts of the evildoers, and let peace be victorious. We ask this through Christ our Lord. — Amen.”

In 2020 and 2021, the Vatican’s liturgy office provided guidelines for bishops about the celebration of Holy Week and Easter liturgies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vatican Congregation’s latest note, signed by prefect Archbishop Arthur Roche, urged Catholics during Holy Week liturgies “to be prudent and avoid actions and behavior that could potentially be a risk,” while not giving specific recommendations.

“Every assessment and decision should always be made in agreement with the Episcopal Conference, which will take into due consideration the regulations that the competent civil authorities of the various countries adopt,” it said.

“Let the celebration of Easter bring to all peoples the hope that comes solely from the resurrection of the Lord,” the message concluded.

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