Challenges that confront humanity and the mission of the Church for 2017
The mission of The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (the Apostleship of Prayer) is to pray for the mission of the Church and to awaken the missionary capacities of Catholics, by means of a personal and deep relationship with the Heart of Jesus. It is a way of prayer connected with the world, a prayer which leads to serving this world. Five years ago we began a process of recreation for a greater universal service of this mission confided by the Pope to the Society of Jesus, because we think that this worldwide prayer network, present in 98 countries, is more than ever necessary for the mission of the Church. In order that this mission be clearer for people—the majority of whom do not know that we are an official service of the Church—we have changed the name.
The world has changed. The structures and means that were used since the 19th century, by which the Apostleship of Prayer (AP) developed, and that were necessary due to the geographical distances and time required for the printing of bulletins and magazines, were no longer working. Today, in a globalization of communication, in a digital world without borders, in the immediacy of social media, where almost anywhere in the world one can and want to be in relationship with the Pope, we need other means to continue this mission. For this reason, we thought, with the help of the agency “La Machi,” that video would be a good way of making known these challenges for humanity and the mission of the Church. Videos permit Pope Francis to more easily create a personal relationship and move the heart to prayer and action.
The prayer intentions of the Pope are prepared almost two years in advance: it a lengthy process of prayerful discernment and selection, involving hundreds of suggestions from around the world, from the dicasteries and the different congregations of the Vatican. The General Director, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, presents, a year in advance, the suggestions to Pope Francis, who shortly afterwards, sends us the official version. After this the list must be translated into the principal languages, sent to the national directors of the AP and the bishops of the whole world, published in a variety of pamphlets and magazines, provided to all the means of Catholic communication, etc. It is a lengthy process.
Although these prayer intentions, which correspond to great challenges of our world, are always up-to-date, often they may seem too general and not sufficiently related to the current concerns of the Holy Father. For this reason, from 2017 on, there will be a change approved by Pope Francis. There will continue to be two intentions, but one prayer intention of the Pope will be for a current event which needs the prayer of all the Church. The other prayer intention will be prepare in advance months before, like now. This will help to mobilize people easier each month for prayer and action on this challenge for humanity. The monthly prayer intention of the Pope will thus be more clearly an orientation for our lives, and a key for the mission of the Church.
In this Year of Mercy, where the Church invites pilgrims to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, besides the Videos of the Pope, we invite you to prayer with our App Click To Pray. This App helps to be engaged with Pope Francis for the challenges that confront humanity and the mission of the Church.
Frédéric Fornos SJ
International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer)
Article for L’Osservatore Romano