Intense Period of Prayer Precedes Conclave

Faithful Invited to Join in Masses for Election of New Pope

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ROME, APRIL 14, 2005 ( The faithful in Rome and beyond are invited to join in special Masses and prayers in the coming days for the election of a new pope.

Pastors and faithful will be united in prayer for the intentions of the Mass “Pro Eligendo Papa” (For the election of the Roman Pontiff”), which cardinal electors will concelebrate in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday before entering in conclave.

“The election of the new Pontiff will not be an isolated event of the People of God, which is only the responsibility of the College of Electors but, in a certain sense, will be an action of the whole Church,” wrote John Paul II in the 1996 apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” (UDG).

The ceremonies for the election of a pope begin Monday, when the cardinal electors meet in St. Peter’s to concelebrate a votive Mass “Pro Eligendo Papa,” which will be presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals.

“Strongly invited,” to this Mass are “all the other Cardinals, Bishops, priests, deacons, members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, laymen of the whole people of God present in Rome, to manifest unanimously the communion of the Church and to raise prayers” [see “Ordo Rituum Conclavis” (Rites of the Conclave), No. 18].

In keeping with UDG, the “Ordo” insists that all pastors and faithful “throughout the world, raise fervent prayers to God to illuminate the minds of the electors and make them agree in carrying out their mission, so that the election of the Roman Pontiff is solicitous, unanimous and serves for the salvation of souls and the good of the whole people of God.”

John Paul II recommended this in the “most intense and cordial” way to the cardinal non-electors — who are older than 80 — requesting them to “lead the prayer of the People of God, whether gathered in the Patriarchal Basilicas of the city of Rome or in places of worship in other particular Churches,” so that the Holy Spirit will illuminate the electors.

On Wednesday the Holy See distributed, through its press office, a Notice of the Vicariate of Rome to reiterate the invitation to all the faithful to attend the Mass “Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice” on Monday in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The vicariate also published the calendar of Eucharistic celebrations promoted by the diocese, particularly in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome.

At 10 a.m. this Sunday, a chapter Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of St. John Lateran with the hymn “Veni Creator,” invoking the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer “Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice.”

There will be Eucharistic adoration every day, until the new pope is elected. All Masses will be celebrated for the same intention.

At 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday of next week, Masses “For the Election of the Roman Pontiff” will be celebrated in St. John Lateran Basilica by Cardinals Giovanni Canestri, Jozef Tomko, Ersilio Tonini, Jorge María Mejía, Georges Cottier, Carlo Furno, and by auxiliary bishops Rino Fisichella and Luigi Moretti of Rome.

All parishes and churches in Rome will be sent a text for the Prayer of the Faithful, which will be recited at the Masses “Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice” during the days of the conclave, and an invitation to sing the “Veni Creator” or another hymn to the Holy Spirit, and the recitation of the prayer “Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice.”

Also requested is at least one Mass to be celebrated every day in every church of Rome, beginning on Monday, until the day the new pope is elected, as well as hours of Eucharistic adoration, prayer vigils and the recitation of the rosary for the same intention.

Parish priests and rectors of titular churches will be asked to celebrate Masses and to include the singing of the “Veni Creator” and a special prayer for the election of the new pontiff. The Masses are to be presided over by the cardinals titular, if available.

All parish and church bells in Rome will ring after the announcement of the election of the new pope.

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