By Cian Molloy - 09 June, 2018
The Pope’s Intention for June is that social networks may work towards an inclusiveness that respects others for their differences.
Each month, the Holy Father asks for our prayers for a specific intention. Through the apostleship of prayer and online initiatives such as www.catholicireland.net, www.popesprayer.net, and www.thepopevideo.org, the faithful are invited to join with many people worldwide in praying for this intention each month.
While “real life” social networks include the people we work with and with whom we socialise regularly, the Pope’s Intention is primarily focussed on online social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
In his prayer Pope Francis says: “The internet is a gift of God, but it is also a great responsibility.
“Communication technology, its places, its instruments have brought with it a lengthening of horizons, a widening, for so many people. It can offer immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.
“May the digital network not be a place of alienation. May it be a concrete place, a place rich in humanity.
“Let us pray together that social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences.”
The Pope’s Intention and the Apostleship for Prayer spring from an initiative by French Jesuit seminary students in the mid 19th century and have been enormously popular across the world. In recent years, however, the number of people joining with the Pope in prayer has increased enormously thanks to the power of the internet.
More than 13 million people in 98 different countries view the Pope Video via its dedicated website or social media, such as dedicated Facebook groups. The video resource is used by a wide variety of prayer groups and youth groups, but individuals also use it to guide their own personal meditations.
Pope Francis has proved himself to be particularly adept at using social media to promote the Good News. His @Pontifex Twitter account has more than 40 million followers. However, this might be his most meta message yet, where prayers for social media are promoted using social media itself!