Pope appeals for '24 Hours for the Lord' initiative

Pope Francis has called on Catholics around the world to join in the "24 Hours for the Lord," an initiative organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization.

The activity is held every year on Friday and Saturday preceding the fourth Sunday of Lent.

During the event, a church in every diocese around the world is kept open for 24 consecutive hours. The faithful are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to pray in spiritual union with the Holy Father.

Pope Francis called the initiative "an important Lenten appointment for prayer" and a good opportunity to go to Confession.

This year’s observance, however, will take place under restricted circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Unfortunately in Rome, Italy, and in other nations this initiative cannot be held under its traditional format due to the coronavirus emergency," said the pope.

But he urged Catholics in countries without restrictions on gatherings to continue "this beautiful tradition."

"I encourage the faithful to draw near sincerely to the mercy of God in Confession and to pray especially for those suffering due to the pandemic," said the pontiff.

For those who are unable to participate directly in the "24 Hours for the Lord" initiative, Pope Francis said he is certain they will be able to experience "this penitential moment through personal prayer."