ASK FATHER: Intentions of the Holy Father, indulgences and you

Today is the 1st Sunday of October and therefore we have the chance to gain the indulgence attached to the Supplication to Our Lady of Pompeii.  More on that HERE.

Several people have written to me recently to ask about one of the things we have to do to gain indulgences, namely, pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.    They are, how to say this… hesitant about this aspect of gaining indulgences.

Allow me to remind you of a few things.

First, to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father means to pray for the intentions that he designates.  In modern times, Popes have on a monthly basis designated some intentions for prayer.

That said, there are also traditional intentions designated as the intentions of the Holy Father.

Because we are unreconstructed ossified manualists, we turn an old manual for help.

A synopsis of the Pontiff’s intentions is found in Prümmer’s manual (vol. III, no. 556). Prümmer says that “Intentions of the Holy Father” for which we pray in the course of obtaining an indulgence, are a five-fold set which tradition (and the former Congregations) fixed as such, namely:

1. Exaltatio S. Matris Ecclesiæ (The triumph/growth of holy mother the Church),
2. Extirpatio hæresum (The rooting out of heresy),
3. Propagatio fidei (The propogation of the Faith)
4. Conversio peccatorum (The conversion of sinners),
5. Pax inter principes christianos (Peace among christian rulers).

A Catholic today can use this classic and traditional set of intentions for the purpose of gaining indulgences.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. WmHesch says:

    Since “intentions of the Holy Father” is an idiomatic translation of “ad mentem Summi Pontificis”… might it behoove us to literally pray for his, ummm, “mens”?

  2. Prayerful says:

    Given the record of Francis, swapping the first word of the 2 and 3 in Latin might make for a better match for his intentions.

  3. Ave Maria says:

    Yes, to obtain the indulgences of the Rosary, we are to pray for the intentions of the pope…I always say “For the age-old intentions of the papacy” which would be the 5 you have listed.

  4. Therese says:

    WmHesch writes: “might it behoove us to literally pray for his, ummm, ‘mens’?”

    Great idea!

    Thanks, Father, for posting these.

  5. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    I’m glad to have the five-fold set given above, and will use it enthusiastically from now on. Sometimes when I’ve not been sure I could pray for a person’s “intentions,” I’ve prayed instead for the intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with regard to that person. Sometimes I’ve done this regarding the Holy Father. I’m not sure whether that sufficed to meet the requirement of praying for the papal intentions.

  6. Cafea Fruor says:

    So what if we disagree with the pope’s intentions? I pray for them no matter what they are, even if I think he’s quite off his rocker. Even if one understands the intentions of the Holy Father to be his personal intentions that may or not be what we’d agree with, I think it shows a certain amount of deference and obedience to pray for them anyway, and heaven knows the world needs more obedience. Admittedly, doing so takes trust in our Heavenly Father, because we need to believe that He’s not going to allow something contrary to His will to occur simply because we were obediently praying for the pope’s intentions–God’s smart enough to figure out what to do with His grace if the pope’s intentions were bad.

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