Praying with Pope Francis
by The Pope's Prayer Network
Every month Pope Francis invites people all over the world to join him in prayer and action as part of his personal Prayer Network. September’s prayer intention is that young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries. The Pope’s Prayer Network shares this intention with all the people of God, the church, inviting us to unite our prayer with what is on the Pope’s heart as he reviews the challenges that face humanity, and calling us to share in Christ’s mission. In addition to prayer, we are offered three challenges, or invitations to concrete action, based on the intention and reviving an old tradition of the Apostleship of Prayer (the previous name for his Network).
Pope Francis, this month, combines at least three of his urgent concerns and commends them to us. The first is that so many young people, in Africa and elsewhere, do not have the dignity of working for a living. This is sadly the case. Owing to the lack of work and sometimes in addition to political violence, many become refugees and victims of people-trafficking. Pope Francis has frequently tried to get us to see that lack of employment for young people is one of the most serious problems facing humanity, in many parts of the world including here in Europe; but nowhere is this truer than in African nations. Education, similarly, as a basic human right should never be denied to anyone. Like the chance to work, it sets people free and transforms us. We reflect with the Pope this month on how many Africans are denied these basic rights.
The second concern is the continent of Africa and its people, comprising over 40 countries, and full of natural wonder and just as wonderful people. But it is sad that so many of us in the Global North view the continent in wholly negative terms. It is the case that most of its countries have been riven by problems, both political and social; many of those problems are traceable to divisive European colonisation and exploitation. It is a continent of massive potential yet one that knows much suffering. Many African nations are counted among the world’s fastest-growing Catholic Christian regions. So our prayer could include a reflection on how the spread of the Gospel could lead to greater justice, peace and inclusion across this great continent.
Third, the dire threat of climate-change is going to affect the poorest more and more, and they will suffer first and worst. We know this; some still try to deny the reality of what our human actions are doing to our common home but those already suffering as a result will tell you a different story. Many of those live in Africa. They should not be made to suffer or forced to flee their own lands because of our over-consumption.
ACTION: Here are our three challenges for the month:
Get in touch with African migrant communities and their young people, to understand their reality, their dreams, their difficulties and offer your help, or that of your parish or worshipping community, to assist them in growing their educational projects.
Acquaint yourself with development projects that support education and employment in Africa. Great work has been done for many years by the Jesuit Missions offices and by CAFOD, in England and Wales, by SCIAF in Scotland and by Trocaire in Eire. Take some time this month to obtain some of their materials and be inspired by the great work they do.
Organise in your own community a time of prayer or formation in which the subject of the situations that lead so many young Africans to migrate in a forced way outside their countries is discussed. Include in that prayer-time space for negative views of migrants to be admitted honestly and to consider instances of hostility towards migrants, whether from governments or from local people, and ponder the reasons for this.
Father of All Goodness, who created your sons and daughters in a great diversity of peoples, ethnic groups and cultures, I thank you this month for the rich gift of the youth of Africa.
We pray for all these young people, who live in environments of war, insecurity, and in precarious living and health conditions. Enlighten with your Spirit those who have the responsibility to make decisions on education and work in Africa, so that they can ensure a decent future for the young people of this great continent.
If you would like more information please visit the website www.popesprayer.net
Resources, including prayer cards, booklets and calendars, can be obtained by contacting: [email protected] or calling 020 8442 5232