Apps! They’re everywhere! Even Pope Francis is endorsing them. On Sunday, the pontiff touted an app called ClickToPray ahead of the World Youth Day festival in Panama.
Francis told fellow Catholics from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to download and begin using the app, which Agence France-Press noted was first launched in 2016 and runs on iOS and Android in at least six languages, during his traditional weekly Angelus prayer.
“The Internet and social media are a resource of our time,” the pope said. From a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Francis then gestured to a tablet. Father Frédéric Fornos, international director of the pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, held up the device for the crowd to see.
“Here,” Francis said, “I’ll insert the intentions and the prayer requests for the mission of the Church.”
... “Did I do it?” he asked.
ClickToPray allows for users to post what they are praying for at any given time—and it also includes Facebook-like features including a timeline. According to NPR, users can “write prayers for weddings, celebrations, illnesses and more, and others can click to pray with them or leave a comment.” Per Vatican News, it also has a section where the pope will leave monthly prayer guidance and a “pray every day” section “involving three daily moments.”
Francis has been more active online than his predecessors. While Pope Benedict joined Twitter in 2012, Francis has had a lot more time to sink into social media since assuming control of the @Pontifex account in 2013 and joining Instagram in 2016 (in what is perhaps a related note, by 2018 he was asking the faithful to spend less time on their phones). As NPR separately reported, the pope’s attempts to reach out to younger demographics has been overshadowed by institutional Catholic sex scandals, with a Pew Research Center survey in late 2018 finding that the U.S. public’s view of his handling of the situation has plummeted, with just 31 percent saying it was “excellent” or “good.” Nevertheless, some 18,000 users have logged on to the app to read his prayer guidance for January.
ClickToPray is free, though there’s no word on whether Francis might be considering cashing in on some kind of micropayment-fueled indulgence economy.
Correction: This article originally stated that Pope Francis joined Twitter in 2012. That was his predecessor, Pope Benedict, though Benedict resigned just a few months later and Francis is now the pope behind the @Pontifex handle. We regret the error.