Pastor’s Corner for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

It’s hard to believe that just over 10 years ago Cardinal Bergoglio was elected bishop of Rome. On the 13th of March 2013, this unknown Argentinian emerged on the balcony of the Papal apartment overlooking St Peter’s to the thunderous applause of thousands of people gathered in the square below. This was the first pope who did not come from the global north, who did not come from the Europe. Instead, he came from the global south, from a country that had known colonisation and the rule of military dictators. He is more like us than any other pope we have had. He is also the first pope that I am aware of who from in his first address to the world asked the church to pray for him.


And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today will be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favour. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me — the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer — your prayer for me — in silence. …


I remember the square becoming absolutely silent as the people held their shepherd in their hearts and prayers. If this doesn’t blow your mind, it should. The Pope was asking for the prayers, the blessings of God’s people. This act of humility has characterised the pontificate of Pope Francis. As he began his pontificate, asking for our prayers, so he does now, asking us to pray for him during this month of November. We will pray this prayer at all our Sunday masses, and it is also the prayer intention that our parish prayer warriors are praying for this month. I invite to join us in praying for Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, shepherd and father.


We pray for the Holy Father; as he fulfils his mission, may he continue to accompany the flock entrusted to him, with the help of the Holy Spirit.