Pope Francis' new "urgent action" plea

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, known for many years as the Apostleship of Prayer, continues its re-creation and development in a significant new way today.

From the beginning of 2017, Pope Francis wants to share with us all just one pre-planned Prayer Intention each month (there used to be two). He entrusts this, as the Popes have done for many decades, to the PWPN/AoP, the Pope’s own personal prayer network, which is run on his behalf by the Jesuits, for us to spread it among the faithful.

The latest innovation is that, from today on, there will be a second, “urgent action” intention each month. The Pope will announce it each month, at the Sunday Angelus, and will ask the PWPN to share it widely, so that we can all pray with the Pope for these urgent concerns and challenges. He has stated that he hopes these intentions will lead to rapid action in response.

"Warm our hearts" towards the homeless

Today, after the usual Angelus midday prayer, the Pontiff announced the first of these “urgent action” intentions – for homeless people, especially during the winter’s cold weather. “During these very cold days, I think of and I invite you to think of all the people who live on the streets, affected by the cold and many times by indifference,” he said. “Unfortunately some didn’t make it. Let us pray for them, and let us ask the Lord to warm our hearts so as to be able to help them”.

It’s really important that we understand that we don’t just say a prayer about these concerns and then imagine our job is done! It’s about opening our hearts to the possibility of real, concrete charity and mercy; or, in a word, action. Pope Francis, informing his Network about these changes at the turn of the year, made it clear that he sees these urgent intentions as a way of “breaking us out of the culture of indifference”.

The Monthly Intention for January 2017, already proposed to everyone by the Prayer Network, is for Christian unity: “that all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.” This intention, too, asks of us action as well as prayer.

Speaking in Rome today, the International Director of the Pope’s Prayer Network, Fr.Frederic Fornos SJ, reflected that the Pope’s urgent intention is a way of confronting that “culture of indifference” by drawing not only attention, but also prayer, to situations that are “more concrete, precise, current (and) related to actual circumstances.” In London, the UK National Director, Fr.David Stewart SJ, echoed this thought, noting that “It’s got to come from the heart; just one of the reasons why the Apostleship of Prayer has always included a daily offering prayer to Christ’s heart. These intentions, inspired by the great concerns of our time, are what’s in the Pope’s heart, in his own prayer, in which he invites us all to join him”.

More resources

Each month the Prayer Network will continue to promote these intentions as soon as we receive them from the Pope. For Britain, a monthly reflection and a few suggestions for prayer appear each month on www.popesglobalprayer.net. See also the new online App, including these intentions and daily offering prayers that change each day. Other resources, prayer-cards, a monthly calendar and our Living Prayer booklets, can be ordered from Fr Stewart.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network is the new name in 2017 for the Apostleship of Prayer. It’s an international apostolic service entrusted by the Holy See to the Jesuits. It has at its heart the devotion to the Heart of Christ, a heart open to all the concerns that face humanity; devotion to the Sacred Heart first inspired the Apostleship of Prayer. Now, there is even more emphasis on being the personal prayer network of the Holy Father. Pope Francis has taken a keen personal interest in the Network/AoP. Praying for the Holy Father’s intentions helps us to look outside of ourselves and open our hearts – in other words, to become apostolic, to become those “Missionary Disciples” that Pope Francis always encourages us to be.