Vatican City, March 12 (IANS/AKI) Italian cardinal Angelo Sodano, in a homily Tuesday before thousands of pilgrims, urged leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to unite behind the new pope to be elected in the conclave starting Tuesday.
“St. Paul teaches that each of us must work to build up the unity of the Church so that ‘From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work’,” said Sodano, commenting on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
“Each of us is, therefore, called to cooperate with the successor of Peter, the visible foundation of such an ecclesial unity,” said Sodano, the dean of the college of cardinals and a Vatican secretary of state.
He urged the 115 cardinals taking part in the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI to “allow the Holy Spirit to give us a generous-hearted pope”.
The mass in St. Peter’s basilica was the last liturgical event before the conclave Tuesday, during which cardinal electors must remain incommunicado and are not allowed to leave the Vatican.
Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan who is regarded as the champion of a largely non-Italian faction seeking to reform the Vatican’s governance, enters the conclave as the favourite.
To be appointed pope, candidates need at least 77 votes.