As the Pope continues to suffer from ongoing internal troubles at the Vatican and other burdens associated with the papacy, two German initiatives aimed at showing him solidarity are reportedly gaining popularity.
The first calls on the faithful to not only pray for the Pope, but also to pray with him, reciting the Rosary at exactly the same time as Pope Benedict does every evening.
Punctually, at 6:45pm during the summer, the Holy Father and his private secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, take a stroll through the Vatican Gardens to recite the Marian prayer.
The idea for the prayer came from the publishers of Vatikan Magazine, a German monthly, who were moved by the struggles confronting the Church and the “the loneliness of the Pope” which it found “particularly distressing.”
“If you look at the pictures of Pope Benedict XVI on the loggia of St. Peter’s basilica when he appeared to the world in 2005, and compare those images with those of him today, one knows which burdens weighed on him and which further weigh on him,” said Vatikan correspondent, Paul Badde. “There’s no need to read the latest news.”
Although the initiative is aimed at German faithful who share the same time zone as Rome, it’s of course open to anyone who wants to take part.
Badde, who took inspiration for the initiative from St. Juliana of Liege who helped found the feast of Corpus Domini, stressed the Rosary could be freely prayed anywhere, alone, in families, or in groups of religious or lay faithful, even using social networks on the internet.
“This initiative should help him to bear this burden a little, praying in communion with him and before the Blessed Mother, to the last days of his pontificate,” Badde said.
Although it began only on Thursday on the feast of Corpus Domini, Badde told me the initiative has so far “run like a bushfire through Germany.” With such a strong following, perhaps it may one day even be instituted as a regular prayer for the Successor of Peter within the Church.
A second initiative, from Germany’s “Pro-Papa” group, involves sending pre-printed postcards to the Holy Father with the message “We are with you!” The template can be downloaded and then sent to the Pope.
Around 1,000 have already downloaded and sent it since the initiative started a week ago.
(Video by Rome Reports shows the Holy Father reciting the Rosary with Msgr. Gaenswein at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo in 2010).