On the Pope's Heart: April 2016
Pope Francis' Prayer for April 2016: Small Farmers and African Christians
Pope Francis' universal prayer intention for April 2016 is that "small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor."
Pope Francis has been vocal about the need for a moral economy, and the close ties between care for creation and economic justice for the poor. When 90% of America's farms are small and the the largest American job loss of any occupation is farmers, we should all pay attention. Are farmers being paid justly for their labor? Are small, ecologically sustainable farms being marginalized to make way for more efficient, but potentially more damaging large farms?
Pope Francis says:
The labor of those who cultivate the earth, generously dedicating time and energy to it, appears as a genuine vocation. It deserves to be recognized and appropriately appreciated, also in concrete economic policies.
We join him in lifting small farmers in prayer. We will also commit to lifting our voices in support of small farmers, including the ways we spend our money.
Pope Francis prays this month that "Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts."
Africa is the contintent on which Christianity is spreading the fastest, and yet Christians in Africa still experience outright persecution and violence. We remember a year ago, when 148 students were killed at Garissa University College in act of anti-Christian terrorism.
When the Pope was in Africa in the fall of 2015, he gave words of hope to the African people:
In so many ways, the Church is called to offer hope to the broader culture, a hope based on her unstinting witness to the newness of life promised by Christ in the Gospel.
We join Pope Francis in praying that African Christians may spark hope in all of us because of their witness to new life. May their unfailing hope make hope alive in all of us.
Lord, you have given us this Earth in your goodness, so that we all may steward it and reap its fruits. Instead, some of us exploit it. We exploit the earth and one another by unfair treatment and outright persecution. Send your Spirit among us. Give us a spirit of justice and hope. Help us to do justice, and to keep hope in Your Son when justice is not done. Help us to pray unceasingly for small farmers, who are often subject to economic injustice, and Christians in Africa, who witness to hope in spite of the persecution they face.
This we pray in Jesus's name, Amen.
Watch the Pope's prayer video for April: