By CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE | Published December 12, 2019
WASHINGTON (CNS)—The Catholic faithful across the United States are invited to pray for Pope Francis as he celebrates 50 years as a priest.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter to bishops across the country asking them to encourage parishioners to honor the jubilee during Advent with special prayers and Mass petitions.
The letter included a prayer for the pope as well as two petitions that can be used at Mass or in praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The archbishop also invited the faithful to use any other appropriate prayer for the pope if they desire.
Four days before Pope Francis celebrates his 83rd birthday Dec. 17, he will celebrate 50 years as a priest—a ministry he sees as being a shepherd who yearns to find those who are lost.
The prayers are being sent in English and Spanish to bishops. They were developed by the USCCB Secretariat for Divine Worship.
Archbishop Gomez encouraged bishops to share the prayers with parishes, schools and other diocesan ministries.
Supporting materials sent with the letter noted that Dec. 13, the anniversary of the pope’s priestly ordination, is a weekday in Advent and the memorial of St. Lucy. Church practice allows for the celebrant to use an optional special Mass for the day, including one identified as “For the Pope.” The materials suggest that the Mass “would be appropriate to use in honor of the 50 years of priesthood of Pope Francis.”