Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and sacramental theology and director of the Sacerdos Institute at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: Does an online Benediction offer the same spiritual effects as an actual Benediction inside a church or a chapel? When Pope Francis did the Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament in the empty St. Peter’s Square during the height of the COVID pandemic in Italy, did we, who saw it on TV, receive the spiritual benefits of an actual Benediction? Was it similar to the papal blessings urbi et orbi [to the city of Rome and the world]? This thing of online liturgy is getting more confusing than ever before. — C.M., Surigao, Philippines
A: The answer to the question depends in part on what is meant by the term “spiritual effects,” which can embrace many different realities.