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Scott P. Richert

Pope Francis's Prayer Intentions for January 2014

By January 7, 2014

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On December 30, 2013, the Vatican Information Service announced Pope Francis's prayer intentions for January 2014. Pope Francis venerates the Christ Child, Epiphany 2014. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images) These are the prayer intentions that Catholics should keep in mind this month whenever we pray for the intentions of the Holy Father—as, for instance, when we pray the final prayers of the rosary.

Pope Francis's general prayer intention for January 2014 is "that all may promote authentic economic development that respects the dignity of all peoples." This was one of the themes of the Holy Father's apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and the few short paragraphs (202-208) discussing it were the subject of nearly endless debate in the wake of the document's release. Rather than listen to the spin others put on the text, why not make prayerfully reading Evangelii Gaudium, and especially that section, part of the way in which you unite your prayers with those of Pope Francis this month?

Pope Francis's prayer intention for evangelization for January 2014 is "that Christians of diverse denominations may walk toward the unity desired by Christ." The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place every year from January 18-25. As we join our voices to those of Christ Himself, Who prayed that all Christians may be one as He and His Father are one, we can join in the Holy Father's prayer intentions by praying A Devout Exercise for the Unity of the Church and a Prayer to Obtain the Reunion of the Christians of the East.

(Pope Francis venerates the Christ Child during Mass for Epiphany at St. Peter's Basilica, January 6, 2014. Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

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January 7, 2014 at 6:36 pm
(1) R.W.E. Smith says:

Shortly after becoming a Catholic I’ve had a problem with the way in which the desire for Christian unity is expressed. From the above: “that Christians of diverse denominations may walk toward the unity desired by Christ.”
Should we not be more specific? I would think it more in line with God’s Will that we pray that “Christians of diverse denominations” walk toward unity with the Holy Catholic Church. Since Jesus established one Church we really ought to be praying that all Christians who have left over the centuries might come back to that same Church.

- Reg.

January 9, 2014 at 2:49 pm
(2) MJK says:

Scott – Unfortunately, “spin” is every where…it abounds today. It is the fruit of mass democratic societies where elites want to be everything to everybody; spin and ambiguous, often lofty use of language enables this to happen. Placing others’ spin aside, taking the intention of the pope as translated: “that all may promote authentic economic development that respects the dignity of all peoples.” What does it mean in practice?

January 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm
(3) MJK says:

PART 2 – When I first read the text it sounded more like an NGO mission statement. I gather it all depends on the hermeneutic one applies to a given text or exhortation. I mean even if one applies the phenomenological tool of “bracketing” or approach the exhortation in good faith, meditatively, its overall phrasing seems less concrete more abstract than previous papal pronouncements or prayerful intentions. For example, the use of language in Rerum Novarum is far more concrete and concise: “It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor. And the danger lies in this, that crafty agitators are intent on making use of these differences of opinion to pervert men’s judgments and to stir up the people to revolt” Or, “The rights here spoken of, belonging to each individual man, are seen in much stronger light when considered in relation to man’s social and domestic obligations….to respect in every man his dignity as a person ennobled by Christian character.” Oh, the clarity and concreteness. It is balanced in that it asserts a duty marries it to an obligation and underscores we all got skin in the game. It doesn’t just simply emphasize the plight of the economically “poor” but operates, at least to me, on the recognition that we are all as a prerequisite poor in spirit…that what people think and believe matters and the physical realities are a manifestation of that thought and belief. In fact, along the lines of an NGO mission statement, the text and its message seems more akin to the sentimental humanitarianism of the fanciful, otherworldly, seamless garment approach to Catholic Christianity. For that I find, Pius XII Christmas message of 1944 far more on point, insight, meditative, and hopeful…a far cry from the garden variety NGO sounding mission statement:
Best, MJK

January 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm
(4) MJK says:

“94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.”

Ironically, the message of this exhortation reflects anthropocentric immanentism!

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