The first video of Pope Francis’ traditional monthly prayer intentions has been released.
In the video, which demonstrates the Pope's prayer intention for January on interreligious dialogue, the Pope says that all religious followers are children of God and dialogue is necessary if justice and peace are to be achieved. It ends with representatives of Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity each saying they "believe in love."
Each month, the Holy Father will have his prayer intentions filmed by Vatican Television Centre (CTV) and disseminated on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
The new initiative is the idea of the international Apostleship of Prayer, a Jesuit-run outreach to which every pope since Pope Leo XIII in 1890 has entrusted his monthly prayer intentions.
“Our job is to make sure everyone who wants to pray with the Pope knows exactly what is on his heart,” wrote Grace Mazza Urbanski, director of the Children’s Ministry of the Apostleship of Prayer, in a Jan. 5 blog post. She said the apostolate is “enormously excited” by the development.
The first of two monthly prayer intentions for this month is on interreligious dialogue — “that sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice”. The second is devoted to Christian unity — “that by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions.”
The head of the Apostleship of Prayer, Jesuit Father Frederic Fornos, told Vatican Radio Jan. 4 that people are often inundated with so much bad news that they might feel helpless, so "to pray together with Pope Francis for these challenges will help us a lot.”
He revealed the Holy Father will speak in Spanish but subtitles will also be available in 10 other languages.
The full list of monthly prayer intentions can be found on the Apostleship of Prayer’s website here. Each monthly intention contains one universal or general prayer and another for evangelization.
Pope Francis' other general prayer intentions for 2016 include care for creation; respect for women and indigenous peoples, strength for persecuted Christians, solidarity with refugees, and an end to child soldiers. Other prayers comprise just compensation for small farmers, the contribution of sports to world peace, and that journalists be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.
The apostolate says anyone can join the organization “simply by being committed to praying a daily offering every day.” It doesn't exclude members from any other memberships or activities.
It also quotes Pope Pius XII as saying that the Apostleship of Prayer is “like a breath of fresh air that blows through all the organizations of the Church.”
“Although our simple and profound way of life stretches back to the earliest days of the Church, it is also contemporary,” the group said on its website. “The reason that we are new as well as ancient is that our devotion is tied to the Eucharist”, it said, adding that its “spiritual meaning, message, and method all derive from the Eucharist. In Him, we are alpha and omega, today and forever.”