The other day, as we were about to pray #twitterangelus for the intentions of @Pontifex, Dominie Stemp tweeted: 'What if his intentions aren't holy, though?'
I didn't have much time, as we were approaching noon - Angelus time - so I tweeted back: 'All Catholic prayer, finally, is 'Thy will be done!' God will find the good in anyone's intentions and pursue that.'
I think that's fine as an answer, but also think that there is more we could, and perhaps should, say about this.
The first is the general point. I always think that praying for someone's intentions is analagous to praying for the dead. Tradition has it that if we pray for the repose of someone's soul, and that person is already in Heaven, God will apply those prayers to another soul in need. That makes sense to me. Likewise, I assume that if we pray for someone's intentions, God will apply that prayer in the best way.
The second thing to consider is this: of course, a Pope, like anyone else, may have unholy - or even evil - intentions. It is a very strong ultramontism that regards a Pope as impeccable!
But I think that it is not our place to judge that. It seems to me that judging someone else's intentions is perilously close to judging the state of their soul, which we are forbidden from doing.
I may think a particular Pontiff's policies are wrong, harmful or even disastrous. I may have the right, and even the duty to judge such policies and share that judgement publicly; even to oppose them. Yet I have no right to judge the person of the Pontiff, any more than I have the right to judge anyone else. We cannot see another's soul. I think judging intentions is, as I say, perilously close to that.
Moreover, I have a duty to pray for the Holy Father: a filial duty and a duty in charity. For one thing I do know is that the triple crown is a heavy one; that anyone elevated to that office is ipso facto one of the major targets of Satan and his servants.
So pray for our Holy Father and his intentions, whether you think him wise or foolish; and beware of any temptation to think him a saint or a sinner, for "Judgement is mine, saith the Lord."