Global papal prayer network continues to evolve

IMAGE: CNS/Apostleship of Prayer

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Last year, more than 13 million people
around the world watched Pope Francis explain one of his specific prayer
intentions each month.

The 90-second, personal explanations in “The Pope
Video,” first launched in January 2016, encouraged people to join an
estimated 50 million Catholics who already had a more formal relationship with
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network — better known by its former title, the
Apostleship of Prayer.

The prayer network, which is more than 170 years old,
continues to evolve.

After the debut in 2016 of the monthly video on, the new year began with Pope Francis adding a second
monthly intention — an urgent prayer appeal. For January the appeal was for
the homeless struggling with cold temperatures and indifference.

For decades the Apostleship of Prayer distributed two
intentions for each month: one focused on needs in mission territories and the
other on a matter considered more universal. The lists were published a full
year in advance after going through a long process of collecting suggestions,
getting input from Vatican offices and being translated.

Pope Francis has decided now that the prepared list of
prayer intentions will alternate each month between a missionary concern and a
universal one. The second prayer for the month will be announced at the
beginning of the month by the pope during his Sunday Angelus address.

The urgent intention will then be shared with members of the
prayer network through its websites, social media and email.

Jesuit Father James Kubicki, U.S. director of the network,
said the international director believes the urgent prayer request is a way for
Pope Francis “to confront ‘the culture of indifference’ by focusing our
prayerful attention on situations that are ‘more concrete, precise, current, related
to actual circumstances.'”

Jesuit Father Luis Ramirez, assistant international director
of the prayer network, told Catholic News Service Jan. 11 that the urgent
prayer request does two things. First, it strengthens the spiritual experience
of those who are joining in prayer, letting them know they do not pray alone.
And, more importantly, it lets those suffering know that the pope sees their
pain and is trying to rally assistance.

Of course, Father Ramirez said, the pope hopes people are
“not just watching the video and receiving the appeal, but taking action
and offering help.”

Justiniano Vila, a manager at La Machi, the Barcelona-based
company that produces “The Pope Video,” told CNS more than 13 million
people clicked on and watched at least one of the videos in 2016. Those that
garnered the most views were January’s on interreligious dialogue, February’s
on care for creation and June’s on solidarity in cities.

The most popular platform for viewing the video is Facebook,
he said. The Pope Video Facebook page has a reach of 25 million people. The
video also can be watched on the official website — —
and on YouTube.

In the videos, which last less than 90 seconds, Pope Francis
speaks in Spanish. Subtitles are then added for English, French, Italian,
Dutch, Portuguese and Arabic.

Of the more than 13 million views in 2016, Vila said, 45
percent were in the original Spanish, 29 percent were with the Portuguese
subtitles and 13 percent were with English subtitles.

– – –

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article