REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE’S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
The Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below from the Apostleship seek to illuminate the Holy Father’s concerns.
In November 30, 2015 security was tight in PK5, a small district in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. In the previous three months, clashes between Christians and Muslims resulted in over 100 deaths. Undeterred, Pope Francis ventured into the neighborhood as a witness to reconciliation.
He said: “We are well aware that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your country were not grounded in properly religious motives. Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace. Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived together in peace for many years. They ought, therefore, to remain united in working for an end to every act which, from whatever side, disfigures the Face of God. Together, we must say no to hatred, no to revenge and no to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself.”
Africa is a wounded continent. It is bleeding from tribal, racial, and religious conflicts. As the European colonial powers departed in the 20th Century, they left behind a legacy of corruption and exploitation of resources that continues. For healing and change to occur, mercy is required.
Visiting a refugee camp, Pope Francis said: “We must work and pray and do everything possible for peace. But without love, without friendship, without tolerance, without forgiveness, peace is not possible.”
Pope Francis challenged government officials: “Everything must be done to protect the status and dignity of the human person. Those who have the means to enjoy a decent life, rather than being concerned with privileges, must seek to help those poorer than themselves. In effect, our human dignity is expressed by our working for the dignity of our fellow man.”
Working to safeguard human dignity means “avoiding the temptation of fear of others, of the unfamiliar, of what is not part of our ethnic group, our political views or our religious confession. Unity, on the contrary, calls for creating and promoting a synthesis of the richness which each person has to offer. Unity in diversity is a constant challenge, one which demands creativity, generosity, self-sacrifice and respect for others.”
Praying for African Christians, we commit ourselves to imitating the Merciful Jesus and giving prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace in our own lives.
Why is justice not enough to bring about peace? What role does the purification and healing of memories play in the reconciliation that can lead to peace?
Luke 24: 33-38 On the cross Jesus did not retaliate, asking the Father to take vengeance and to punish those who crucified him. He asks the Father to forgive them.
2 Peter 2: 21-25 Jesus, the only innocent and sinless one, suffered and died on the cross to take away the sins of the world and to bring healing.
Pope Francis’ Address upon arriving in Kenya, November 2015: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/november/documents/papa-francesco_20151125_kenya-autorita.html
Pope Francis’ Address to Government Officials in the Central African Republic: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/november/documents/papa-francesco_20151129_repubblica-centrafricana-autorita.html
Pope Francis’ Address to Young People at the beginning of a Reconciliation Service in the Central African Republic: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/november/documents/papa-francesco_20151129_repubblica-centrafricana-veglia-preghiera.html