Cardinals pray for guidance during conclave to elect new pope

PTI Vatican City | Updated on March 12, 2018

Cardinals set for a conclave this week to elect a new leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics prayed for divine guidance at masses today, as the faithful picked their papal favourites.

Some of the 115 cardinals who will pick a successor to Benedict XVI addressed parishioners in Rome before they are shut away from the world in the Sistine Chapel from Tuesday to make their choice.

US Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who is seen as a possible contender for the papacy, said in his homily that the Catholic world was “united in prayer” as the clock ticked down to the conclave.

“Let us pray that the Holy Spirit enables the Church to choose a new pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the Good Shepherd,” O’Malley told parishioners in Santa Maria della Vittoria church.

In an apparent reference to the rising secularism which is one of the key challenges for the Catholic Church, O’Malley based his homily on the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, who runs away from home but is welcomed back with open arms by his father.

“People leave the Father, the Church, for many reasons — ignorance, a poor welcome, negative experiences, scandals, spiritual mediocrity,” he said.

Father Stefano Guernelli, rector of the ornate Baroque church, told O’Malley: “I hope this is the last time you come here as a cardinal and I hope that if you are elected pontiff this will be the first church that you visit.”

Another favourite to succeed the first pope to retire for 700 years has emerged among seasoned Vatican watchers — Canada’s Marc Ouellet.

“We are all waiting for the upcoming conclave, not only the faithful of the Catholic Church but the whole world is waiting,” he said in his homily at the Santa Maria in Transpontina church on the main avenue leading to the Vatican.

“We are here to pray together as the people of God at this unique time in history for the Church,” he said.

“We pray that the Holy Spirit may indicate to the cardinals the one that God has already chosen.”

Cardinal Odilo Scherer, the charismatic Brazilian whose stock is rising in a race without a clear frontrunner, attracted a packed congregation at the Sant’Andrea al Quirinale church.

The Archbishop of Sao Paulo said the week of meetings that the cardinals have held before the conclave — expected to have included the scandals which rocked the Church during Benedict’s papacy — had filled him with joy.

Published on March 11, 2013

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