.- The Knights of Columbus have invited the faithful to participate in a Twitter initiative to pledge their prayers for Pope Benedict XVI and his successor during the upcoming period of transition.
“In these remaining days of his papacy, our thoughts and prayers are with Pope Benedict XVI, who has worked so hard in leading the Church, and has always been such a good friend to the Knights of Columbus,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson on Feb. 11.
“We wish him all the best in his retirement,” Anderson continued. “In addition, we pray for all those cardinals who will take part in the conclave, and for his successor, that God may inspire them as they carry out the mission with which they are entrusted.”
The Catholic fraternal order is encouraging users of the social media website Twitter to send their messages of “prayerful support” to Pope Benedict in the final days before he steps down from the papacy.
The Knights are encouraging people to tweet the phrase “I am praying for you” to the Pope’s Twitter account, @pontifex. They can use the hashtag #prayerforthechurch to mark their tweet.
Those who pledge to pray for the Pope may also submit their names to the website www.prayerforthechurch.com. These names will be brought to the installation Mass of the next Pope.
The website provides a prayer written in English, Spanish, French and Polish. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the Knights of Columbus’ Supreme Chaplain, authored the special prayer soon after the Pope made his plans to resign public.
On Feb. 11, the Holy Father announced that he will be retiring at the end of the month due to declining strength and advancing age. The College of Cardinals will meet at the Vatican next month to elect a new pontiff.
During his most recent Wednesday audience, Pope Benedict asked for prayers from the faithful over the coming weeks.
“Continue to pray for me, for the Church, for the future Pope,” he said Feb. 13.
Archbishop Lori’s prayer thanks Jesus Christ “for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI and the selfless care with which he has led us as Successor of Peter, and your vicar on earth.”
“Good Shepherd, who founded your Church on the rock of Peter’s faith and have never left your flock untended, look with love upon us now, and sustain your Church in faith, hope, and charity,” the prayer reads.
It further asks Jesus to give Catholics a new Pope “who will please you by his holiness and lead us faithfully to you, who are the same yesterday, today and forever.”
The knights are also offering physical prayer cards for parishes, schools or local councils to use in praying for the pontiff.
With more than 1.8 million members across the globe, the Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world. Last year, the knights donated more than $158 million and 70 million hours to charity and volunteer projects.
The organization has worked closely with the Vatican over recent years, and last December, the Holy Father addressed participants of a conference at St. Peter’s Basilica that the Knights of Columbus co-sponsored with the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
Furthermore, Anderson has worked with Pope Benedict XVI – as well as his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II – and also serves on multiple Vatican committees.
“Until a new Pope is elected, we encourage all members of the Knights of Columbus, their families and all Catholics to say this prayer daily for Pope Benedict, for the Church, and for our future Pope,” Anderson said.