VATICAN CITY | Roman Catholic cardinals prayed for divine help on Tuesday, hours before a conclave to elect a new pope to tackle the daunting problems facing the Church at one of the most difficult periods in its history.
The cardinals, including the 115 aged under 80 who will vote for the next pope, filed into St. Peter’s Basilica as choirs sang at the ritual solemn Mass that precedes a conclave.
They prayed that God would inspire them to choose the right man to replace Pope Benedict, who abdicated abruptly last month saying he was not strong enough to confront the woes of a Church whose 1.2 billion members look to Rome for leadership.
The Mass was the last event for the cardinals as a group before they enter the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday afternoon and make their choice for the next pontiff before Michelangelo’s famous fresco of the Last Judgment.
In his homily, Italy’s Angelo Sodano, dean of the cardinals, said they should pray “that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart”.
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