Speculation rife as cardinals sit in conclave

“Cardinals heard a final appeal for unity Tuesday before sequestering themselves in the Sistine Chapel for the conclave to elect the next pope, as they celebrated Mass amid divisions and uncertainty over who will lead the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church and tend to its many problems,” Nicole Winfield wrote for the Associated Press, an article republished by the National Post today. Winfield continued, “A Gregorian chant wafting through St. Peter’s Basilica, the 115 cardinal electors filed in wearing bright red vestments, many looking grim as if the burden of the imminent vote was weighing on them. A few hundred people braved thunderstorms and pouring rain to watch the Mass on giant TV screens in St. Peter’s Square. In his homily, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, called for unity within the church, a not-so-veiled appeal to the cardinal electors to put their differences aside for the good of the church and the next pope. ‘Each of us is therefore called to cooperate with the Successor of Peter, the visible foundation of such an ecclesial unity,’ Sodano said. He was interrupted by applause from the pews – not so much from the cardinals – when he referred to the ‘beloved and venerated’ Benedict XVI and his ‘brilliant’ pontificate. Benedict’s surprise resignation – the first in 600 years by a pope – has thrown the church into turmoil and exposed the deep divisions among cardinals who are grappling with whether they need a manager who can clean up the Vatican’s dysfunctional bureaucracy or a pastor who can inspire Catholics at a time of waning faith. ‘Let us pray for the cardinals who are to elect the Roman pontiff,’ read one of the offertory prayers during the Mass. ‘May the Lord fill them with his Holy Spirit with understanding and good counsel, wisdom and discernment.’ Read the full article here.

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