Pope Francis has invited Catholics to pray with him online as he unveiled his own profile on the “Click to Pray” app, the official app of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, a statement from the Vatican said.
He swiped a tablet on Sunday to launch a new app allowing the faithful to pray with him, and expressed his pain over the car bomb blast in Colombia and the latest Mediterranean migrant tragedy.
He presented the Vatican’s latest digital platform, known as the Worldwide Network of Prayer with the Pope, during his traditional Sunday address to tens of thousands of people in Saint Peter’s Square.
The new app, called Click to Pray, will inform the user what the leader of the world’s 1.3bn Roman Catholics is praying for, such as world peace or the population of a country hit by a natural disaster, so they can join him.
With the help of an aide holding up a touchscreen tablet, Francis, 82, made a show of using the app.
“Here I will put in ... requests for prayers for the church’s mission,” he said.
Francis, who once said he was a “disaster” with technology, turned to the priest holding the tablet for him and asked “Did I do it?”
The priest nodded.
By clicking on the “Pray with the Pope” section of the mobile app or website, Catholics can see the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions, while the “Pray with the network” section is “a space where users (Pope Francis among them) can share their prayers with others”, the Vatican said.
The goal is a platform to allow people “to accompany the Pope in a mission of compassion for the world”.
“Internet and the social networks are a resource of our time, a way to stay in touch with others, to share values and projects, and to express the desire to form a community,” the Pope.
Minutes earlier, Francis told the crowd: “Today, I have two pains in my heart. Colombia and the Mediterranean.”
“I am thinking of the 170 victims in the Mediterranean. They were looking for a future for their lives and perhaps they were victims of human traffickers. Let us pray for them and for those who are responsible for what happened,” he said.
The migrants were believed to have been lost in the Mediterranean in two incidents involving dinghies that left from Libya and Morocco.
Speaking of Colombia, he called the car bomb at a police academy on Thursday that killed at least 21 and injured dozens “a terrorist attack”.
Colombia’s President Ivan Duque said the rebel group ELN was responsible.
Alongside the Click to Pray profile, the Pontiff has his own Twitter and Instagram accounts – though the 82-year-old has cautioned repeatedly about the danger of social media use causing a decline in real human interaction.
Pope Francis will make his first trip to Panama on Wednesday for the gathering of more than 150,000 young Catholics from across the globe at the World Youth Day festival.
Launched in 2016, Click to Pray is available in Spanish, English, Italian, French, Portuguese and German, has mobile apps for Android and iOS and is present on social media.
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