Praying for the Pope

When the white smoke appeared, thousands of eager faithful below cheered. They turned to prayer for the new pope, and were promptly joined by millions of Catholics as word flashed around the world. Not only Catholics prayed and are praying for Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis; There are others as well. He deserves — and needs — the prayers of everyone. A pope is more than the head of the Roman Catholic Church simply because of his church’s presence and influence throughout the world. We — whether Catholic or not, religious or not — need a healthy, well-led Roman Catholic Church. If you will not pray, then at least wish him well.

For my part, I pray for Pope Francis. I pray:

That he reminds himself he, like us, is a sinner in need to God’s grace, that he must maintain a personal redemptive relationship with God through Jesus Christ and, however much is to be learned from ecclesiastical tradition and papal pronouncements, it is the Bible that is the inspired Word of God, and

that he will be outstandingly successful in leading his clergy and laity to accept the salvation from sin and evil enjoined in the Bible and provided by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and

that he and his people will live this salvation daily and fulfill God’s purpose for them on this earth so that whatever religious practices they maintain, they will be sustained by spiritual experience, and

that he will be first and foremost a spiritual leader more than the CEO of a multi-national corporation, a political operative, or even a religious figure, and that he will model and teach the meaning of celibacy so as to achieve its spiritual purpose for all the religious, and

that he will create an attitude and spirit of openness about clergy guilty of sexual misconduct so that his church and his people will be delivered from sexual abuse as well as create a new atmosphere of moral purity in which his people can feel safe and comfortable, and

that, moreover, he and his priests will teach the Bible’s doctrine of sexual morality so that sex for their people will be a beautiful expression of ultimate love between a man and his wife and that children will come from their love to form wholesome families and

that his church will sustain a wholesome and tolerant attitude toward other religions and treat them justly despite theological disagreements and ecclesiastical competition and

that his ruling hierarchy and practicing communicants will respect and support life in all its forms and on all occasions whether of Catholics or others and

that he and all layers of leadership beneath him will bear moral witness to all nations as to what is right in human behavior and relations without resorting to political intimidation and

that they will demonstrate the wholesomeness of the religious life and effectively expose the aridness of secular materialism and

that they will proclaim eternal moral absolutes, however ancient, and lead the way in challenging the aimlessness of post-modern relativism and

that they will recognize and utilize the considerable moral and spiritual resources with which God has endowed women, whether wives within their families or sisters within the various religious orders and

that he, Francis, will be the finest and most effective pope in history and that, therefore, the Roman Catholic Church in this twenty-first century will be all that God wants it to be.

This is my prayer for this pope. I ask Catholics to read it carefully and others not to read into it something that is not there.

I have now not only written it, but prayed it. Amen.

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