By John-Henry Westen

  VATICAN, April 28, 2006 ( – In an ancient practice, Catholics around the world are often reminded to pray “for the intentions of the Holy Father”. Every month, the Pope releases prayer intentions (usually two) asking the Church to focus on specific needs.Â

  One of the prayer intentions for the month of May, which were released today by the Vatican Information Service, asks the Church to pray for legal protection for life from conception till natural death.

“That in the mission countries those responsible for the public institutions may,” said the official text, “with suitable laws, promote and defend human life from its conception to its natural termination.”

  In his short time as Pope, Benedict XVI has also requested the Catholics to pray with him for the other major cultural battle – that of the family. His general prayer intention for the month of November last year was: “That married people may imitate the example of conjugal holiness shown by so many couples in the ordinary conditions of life.”

  Such intentions were also common with the late Pope John Paul II. In April 2004, a year prior to his death, John Paul asked Catholics throughout the world to join him in praying “That the family, founded on the marriage of a man and a woman, may be recognized as the basic cell of human society.”

  That same year in December, John Paul asked Catholics to pray “That children may be considered as precious gifts of God and may be given due respect, understanding and love.”

  The Pope who made famous the term, the “culture of life” also used the December intention in the jubilee year to focus on asking God to protect life. The Papal prayer intention for December 2000 was “That the celebration of the Jubilee may become the source of a new commitment in men and women of good will to protect and promote human life.”


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