The Friday afternoon General Congregation of the College of Cardinals set this coming Tuesday afternoon for the opening of the conclave where the 115 cardinal electors will choose a new pontiff under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The whole Church is in eager expectation for an event that has garnered the attention of much of the world regardless of their religious sensitivities. For us, members of the Body of Christ, our participation is not primarily by reading the news reports or watching the television interviews. We participate intimately in the conclave by being united in prayer that the cardinals will listen to the urgings of the Holy Spirit and be guided by their commitment to discern the will of God as they cast their ballots, each time swearing that the person proposed is in their estimation before God the best person to be successor of Peter and the next Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Church.

I have already invited the pastors and priests of our diocese to offer the Mass for the election of a Pope, Pro eligendo Pontifice, on any day except Sunday in the days ahead. On Monday I am offering the 7:45 Mass at the Cathedral of St. Agnes for that intention, a Mass that will be televised through Telecare. At all Masses including Sunday the intentions of the Mass and the Prayer of the Faithful should include a petition for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the College of Cardinals proceeds to choose a successor to Peter.

May I invite all of you to join me and all the faithful of our diocese in this prayer of intercession before the throne of God for the cardinals in conclave and for the man who will be selected to succeed in the Chair of Peter. Thus our diocese will be in union with the cardinals and with all the churches of the city and of the world, including in a special way the contemplative religious, in raising a resounding prayer that will seek divine guidance for the conclave and divine protection for the new Pontiff who will lead the Church in unity and charity in the years ahead.