The prayer intention of Pope Francis for March 2017 is “that persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.”
In a monthly reflection on the papal prayer intention, the Apostleship of Prayer notes that Pope Francis has asked for special prayers for persecuted Christians during one month each year, and this year’s request falls at the start of Lent, “a good time to include fasting and almsgiving for them.”
The reflection goes on to observe that there are two sorts of persecution experienced by Christians today: the “clear, explicit type of persecution” in which believers suffer and die for the faith; and what Pope Francis called “polite” persecution, “disguised as culture, disguised as modernity, disguised as progress.”
This year the Vatican has inaugurated a new system for announcing the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. Rather than announcing two intentions (one general intention, one for the missions) in advance each month, the Pope is working with the Apostleship of Prayer to create a video message promoting one intention each month.