Cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church entered a conclave today, Tuesday, 12 March 2013, to elect the next pope. To aid the decision making process, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a resource entitled, “Prayer for the Election of a New Pope.”
O God, eternal shepherd, who govern your flock with unfailing care, grant in your boundless fatherly love a pastor for your Church who will please you by his holiness and to us show watchful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Over the centuries, and especially since Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, successive pontiffs have made significant contributions to the development of Catholic social teaching through their writings on social justice. It is with special intention, during the period of this conclave, that the faithful implore the Holy Spirit to guide Cardinal electors to choose a figure who will announce the Reign of God after the pattern of the Prophets and, especially, Jesus of Nazareth.
Whomever is chosen to lead the Catholic Church, it is important to remember that the Church is not one person. The Church is the people of God. As theologian Joseph Komonchak reminds his readers in a recent article published in Commonweal, “But the church is not the pope, and the pope is not the church, and perhaps what we most need is a pope who will encourage and allow the laity, the religious, the clergy, and the hierarchy to assume their responsibilities for the difference the church is supposed to make in the world.”
We pray for a leader who is both effective and prophetic while we take responsibility for our role in transforming the world by living out the Gospel in our everyday lives.
See the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for resources on the papal transition.
See Joseph A. Komonchak’s March 8, 2013 article entitled “Benedict’s Act of Humility: Now It’s Rome’s Turn” on the Commonweal website.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies