By Kelley Renz

Pope Francis

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church is called a 'Pope.' He is also referred to as the Holy Father, the Holy Roman Pontiff, and His Holiness. Upon his shoulders, God places the care of the entire Church. The Pope does not care for the Church all by himself. He knows the Holy Spirit will guide him, but he must pray for the Spirit's guidance.

Other people help the Holy Father take care of the Church. These men are called Cardinals. In fact, the Cardinals are the ones who gather in Rome to elect a new Pope, when the current Pope dies. These men work closely with the Holy Father, listening to the Holy Spirit, and leading the Church all over the world.

Our Holy Father right now is Pope Francis. He was elected pope after Pope Benedict XVI retired in February 2013. Before Pope Benedict, our Pope was Blessed John Paul II.

Why do we need a Pope? Imagine a team with no captain, a class with no teacher, a family with no parent! God chose certain people through history to make God’'s will known. There was Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, David. Then, when Jesus came, He told Peter: You are rock and on this rock I will build my Church. Peter was the first Pope of this new Church created by Jesus. When Peter died, the apostles who were left knew that they should replace Peter and that whoever replaced him would be the next leader of the Church. What was the name of the second Pope?

It is part of our duty as Catholics to pray for the Pope. We should pray for him every day. Because we know he cares for the Church and has given his life for love of God, it is easy for us to love the Pope, too. Pray this prayer every day for the Pope:

Lord Jesus Christ, you called Pope Francis to lead your Church on earth. Be with him, Lord. Love him and guide him. Help him when he is suffering. Fill him with wisdom when he is making decisions. Fill him with Your joy and Your peace. I promise to offer up this sacrifice today that you may send the Holy Father even more grace. Amen.

(A sacrifice is something you do with joy for the sake of another person. For example, you might promise to make your bed without complaining, to do your homework well, to be kind to someone you usually ignore, etc.)

Pope Linus