Catholics in Great Britain Prepare for Papal Visit with Prayer


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Pledges for more than six months of continuous prayer for the Holy Father have poured in to a Catholic charity ahead of the Pope's visit to the UK. Benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) have promised to pray 31,000 decades of the Rosary - which would take more than seven weeks to say - and spend more than 130 days in Eucharistic adoration.

The charity's appeal, that ran from the May to the middle of August, was in anticipation of the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain on the 16th-19th September. Those supporting ACN's ‘Prayer-Action' for the Pope will have their names included in a hand-made commemorative book that will be presented to the Pope or the Apostolic Nuncio during the visit.

ACN spokesman, Terry Murphy said: "The response to our Prayer-Action for the Pope has been really heartening and inspiring. "Catholics in the UK have made a real commitment of solidarity - both with the Holy Father and with persecuted and suffering Christians around the world."

The charity has also encouraged Catholics to have Mass said for the Pope's intentions by a priest in a country where the Church is in serious need. ACN's Mass Stipends for Poor Priests programme provides support for struggling clerics in impoverished countries, who celebrate Masses for benefactors' intentions. Benefactors of the charity have asked for more than 11,000 Masses to be offered for the Pope's intentions. One of the places helped by the Mass Stipends initiative is the Middle East, which Pope Benedict considers to be a priority area. As part of its ‘Prayer-Action' for the Pope the charity has also asked benefactors to support projects in the region.

ACN is helping with projects such as aid for Iraqi Christian refugees and training for seminarians.
Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the importance of helping Christians in the Middle East when he greeted members of ACN at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo in 2007 for the 60th anniversary of the charity's founding.

In a letter to the charity, he observed "with great concern that local Churches in the Middle East are threatened in their very existence and that many Catholics are forced to live their faith without pastoral care or unable to profess total or in part in community and publicly".

During a visit to Cyprus in June 2010, the Pope reiterated his concerns, saying: "Christians from the rest of the world need to offer spiritual support to their brothers and sisters in the Middle East."
In response to the Pope's request ACN has expanded its help for these ancient Churches which are rapidly declining in numbers.