Pope Francis Just Changed How Papal Prayer Intentions Work. Here’s the Scoop:

Did you know the Pope has monthly prayer intentions he asks everyone to join him in praying for? You might have seen a pamphlet or something listing them out a whole year at a time. In fact, it takes over two years to assemble the list. The process looks something like this:

  1. People from all over the world submit suggestions through different dicasteries (or departments) of the Vatican.
  2. The Superior General of the Society of Jesus presents a list of suggestions to the Pope.
    Fun Fact: The Jesuits established the Apostleship of Prayer – the group that coordinates the whole Pope’s intentions thing – in 1844.
  3. The Pope reviews the list, making any changes he desires, then sends it back for publication.
  4. The list is translated into a bunch of different languages (at the least 9 principle languages the Vatican uses for publications.)
  5. The list is disseminated throughout the Church. (Printed pamphlets, bulletin inserts, website, etc)
  6. People pray with the Pope!

Two years doesn’t seem so long anymore, huh?

The long process wasn’t that big of a deal back in the 19th century when the whole thing got started, but these days, information moves a lot faster, and these long-planned intentions, while addressing the real needs of the world, can end up being a little general and distant from the right-now needs of the world.

In order to address that, Pope Francis has updated how the process works. Instead of generating a list with two intentions each month (one general, one mission/evangelization related), from January 2017 on, the above process will be used to generate one intention per month. A second intention will be written by the Holy Father in response to current specific needs of the world – disaster relief, current events, etc. – and shared with a much shorter turnaround time than the current process.

Article announcing the change translated into English | Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network
Photo: US Papal Visit via flickr