ROME – In his prayer video for November Pope Francis prays for the Church in Asia, that despite challenges it may continue to be a source of peace and dialogue between religions.
“On this continent, where the Church is a minority, the challenges are intense,” the pope says in the video.
“Let us pray that Christians in Asia may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding especially with those of other religions.”
Released Nov. 3, the video shows people of different religions and countries from throughout Asia. It also shows scenes of life in Asia, including the celebration of Mass.
“The most striking feature of Asia is the variety of its peoples who are heirs to ancient cultures, religions and traditions,” the pope says.
Because of this variety, dialogue becomes an “essential part of the mission of the Church” in Asian countries, he pointed out.
The pope’s prayer for Asia comes just a few weeks ahead of his Nov. 27 – Dec. 2 pastoral visit to Burma and Bangladesh.
The Catholic population in both countries is very small. In Bangladesh less than three percent of the population is Catholic, and in Burma it’s less than one percent.
In addition to being a minority religion in itself, the Church in these countries is also made up of people from a variety of ethnic minority backgrounds as well.
His visit is expected to focus on peace and coexistence, especially amid persecution of minorities.
An initiative of the Jesuit-run global prayer network Apostleship of Prayer, the pope’s prayer videos are filmed in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and mark the first time the pontiff’s monthly prayer intentions have been featured on video.
The Apostleship of Prayer, which produces the monthly videos on the pope’s intentions, was founded by Jesuit seminarians in France in 1884 to encourage Christians to serve God and others through prayer, particularly for the needs of the Church.
Since the late 1800s, the organization has received a monthly, universal intention from the pope. In 1929, an additional missionary intention was added by the pontiff, aimed at the faithful in particular.