What We Pray For When We Pray For the Intentions of the Holy Father
CaptCrunch73 Wrote:It's easy, at least for me, to jump on the bandwagon and comment and the crazy things Pope Francis says and does; specifically these days the Pope's January prayer intentions. I found this article at 1P5 educating about why we are supposed to pray for the Pope's intentions.

What We Pray For When We Pray For the Intentions of the Holy Father

Pope Francis was recently featured in a short online video to promote his monthly prayer intention. Unfortunately, the video has given the impression that the pope is promoting religious indifferentism, and as such, it has scandalized not a few Catholics. My purpose here is not to analyze this particular video or intention, but to examine a larger question that a number of Catholics have found themselves asking in recent years:

What does it mean to pray “for the intentions of the Holy Father”?

If a pope’s stated intentions seem questionable, or even as though they are incongruous with our Catholic faith, how can we pray for them in good conscience?

As a prelude to addressing that question, we must first examine the reason why Catholics pray for the intentions of the Holy Father in the first place. The most common reason is that prayer for these intentions is almost always required in our attempts to obtain plenary indulgences. As the Baltimore Catechism says:

    237 Q. What must we do to gain an indulgence? A. To gain an indulgence we must be in a state of grace and perform the works enjoined.

One of the works enjoined for plenary indulgences is to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

So just what are the intentions of the Holy Father? First, these include the specific monthly prayer intentions composed by the Holy Father. Fr. Thomas Kincaid, in his commentary on the Baltimore Catechism (widely known as Baltimore Catechism № 4) describes just what you are praying for when you pray for the intentions of the Holy Father:

    Now, what does praying for the intention of the Pope or bishop or anyone else mean? It does not mean that you are to pray for the Pope himself, but for whatever he is praying for or wishes you to pray for. For instance, on one day the Holy Father may be praying for the success of some missions that he is establishing in pagan lands; on another, he may be praying that the enemies of the Church may not succeed in their plans against it; on another, he may be praying for the conversion of some nation, and so on; whatever he is praying for or wishes you to pray for is called his intention.

This is where many Catholics become concerned. If the pope is wishing us to pray for something that is not Catholic, or in some way harms the Church, then when we pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, it seems that we are also praying for these problematic intentions.

So if a Catholic can’t in good, well-formed conscience support a particular intention of the Holy Father, is that it? Does this mean that such a Catholic cannot obtain a plenary indulgence until such time as the pope stops having problematic prayer intentions?

I don’t think so, for several reasons.

First and foremost, the Church cannot enjoin us to do evil. Yet for centuries, she has enjoined us in many magisterial teachings to make a blanket prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father in order to obtain a plenary indulgence. It follows that making such a blanket prayer cannot be a material contribution to evil on our part.

Second, when you pray generically for the intentions of the Holy Father, we know that four specific, objective intentions are prayed for every time. From the Raccolta, a collection of indulgences that used to be published by the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences:

    23. The Pope’s intention always includes the following objects:

    i. The progress of the Faith and triumph of the Church.

    ii. Peace and union among Christian Princes and Rulers.

    iii. The conversion of sinners.

    iv. The uprooting of heresy.

Whenever you pray for the pope’s intentions, you are praying for these extremely Catholic intentions. You are even praying for these intentions if you are praying in the sede vacante period between different papal reigns.

Finally, God is in charge. He knows that we intend only good when we follow the teaching of the Church to pray for the pope’s intentions. If His Church tells us to pray for the intentions of the pope, and the pope then fails to live up to his office in that regard, the responsibility for that rests with the pope creating those intentions, not with us.

Despite our misgivings, I believe that we can with confidence pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father whenever this is required of us.  We should do what the Church enjoins us to do to receive a plenary indulgence. If we do this with faith, and unite our will to God’s, only good can come of it.
Right, there's a difference between the objective intentions of the Pope with regards to an indulgence--which are simply the ends of the papacy--and the subjective intentions of the Pope, including the special intentions he may publish from month to month.

The Pope publishing a special intention goes back to 1844 and was started in collaboration with the Apostleship of Prayer.  The Mission intention was added in 1929.  On the other hands, Pope's included praying for their intentions as a condition for an indulgence well before then.

This is also why such indulgences remain valid even during a sedevacante.  This question was asked of the Apostolic Penitentiary during the 2005 sedevacante and here is the relevant part of the answer provided (my emphasis):

Apostolic Penitentiary Wrote:Even though the Apostolic See is vacant, the conditions of praying for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff are fulfilled (by reciting once the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary" once; nevertheless, the opportunity is also given to the individual faithful to recite another prayer which pleases them according to the piety and devotion of each one), even if he has fulfilled the duty of his life, since the ends of the Pope's intention, the ends for which one must pray--undoubtedly the spiritual good of the whole Church -- persist."

Unfortunately, I can no longer find the original place this response was hosted, but it is reproduced in its entirety in the comments of this thread:

The article quotes the Raccolta on the most common four ends listed in prayer books.  Here they are listed in a comprehensive book on Indulgences from 1876 with a little more detail:

The Book of Holy Indulgences Compiled from the Decrees of the Sacred Congregations and Other Approved Sources, pg. 28 Wrote:The intentions for which the Holy Father, as a general rule, requires prayer to be offered are: For the exaltation of Holy Church; for the extirpation of schism and heresy; for peace and concord amongst Christian kings and princes; and for the propagation of the Catholic faith. With these general intentions it would be fitting and judicious to offer a further prayer for the welfare of the Sovereign Pontiff, and for his special intentions.

Note the distinction between the general rule, considered "require[d]", and then the addition of special intentions as only "fitting."

Even in more modern sources you'll see the same things--since they are the purposes of the papacy, although the wording can be different depending on the time and place (especially when there is a lack of Christian princes around). Some examples I've seen with modern lingo include

i. The progress of the Faith and triumph of the Church = the evangelization of peoples
ii. Peace and union among Christian Princes and Rulers = peace among nations
iii. The conversion of sinners = the reconciliation of sinners
iv. The uprooting of heresy = the unity of Christians

It makes sense that the Pope's intentions are something objective, since it is possible for a Pope to secretly (or openly) have bad intentions and indulgences are invalid if conditioned on something evil, but the ends of the papacy remain.
St. Clement Mary Hofbauer says: “A Christian who does not pray for the pope is like a child who does not pray for his father.”

I don't pretend to be more pious than monks, nuns and priests, and just about all these religious people, including the SSPX, pray for the intentions of the Pope. I've never had any problem doing it, and short of being a sedevacantist, who believes in his heart or heart that the Vatican has entirely defected from the Catholic Faith, I'm not sure how one would defend oneself against an accussation of pride if one didn't pray for him.

Well, short of just not engaging in those kinds of activities of course. I'm out of my rosary habit these days, due to insomnia and depression (hard to focus on anything), but I do try to pray for Pope Francis and Bishop Chezlaw on occassion.
Leonhard, you're conflating two distinct things: prayer for the intentions of the Pope and praying for the pope. 

The question in the article is whether one can pray for the intentions of the Pope when they appear to be non-Catholic intentions from the subjective perspective of the Pope (I would disagree with the suggestion that the Pope's intentions, even here, are objectively non-Catholic since they can be understood in a Catholic way).

Your comment has to do with praying for the Pope, which every Catholic should do everyday.
(01-15-2016, 02:26 PM)ermy_law Wrote: Your comment has to do with praying for the Pope, which every Catholic should do everyday.

I agree, I realized this in retrospect, and that's probably because praying for the pope and the pope's intentions are so close to each other in my mind.
With all the criticisms of the Holy Father I think someone should be praying for him.
:pray: :pray: :pray:

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