18 APRIL 2005

One week ago, before leaving Rome, I met Cardinal Connell to wish him well for the Conclave. He asked specifically for the help of my prayers and I assured him that we would all, during these days be praying earnestly for him and for all the other Cardinals whose task it is to elect the new Pope.
So these days, people all over the world, will be asking that God will raise up a faithful shepherd, as Bishop of Rome, someone who will do what is in the heart and mind of God.

To know what is in the heart and mind of God the new Pope will be someone who gives time to prayer. He will do so in order to know God intimately and especially to know Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent into the world to show His love for us. Jesus had experienced the love of the Father in such a powerful way that even in the darkest hour of His suffering He put all his trust in the love of the Father. During his final days and weeks, the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, showed to the world, in a remarkable way, his absolute trust in the love of God, in the love of Jesus.

To know what is in the heart and mind of God, the new Pope will know how to lead the Church in examining closely the signs of the times. He will think long and hard in order to discover what those signs are saying to all of us and how best to respond to them. He will do this because the Church, which he will be leading, is itself meant to be a sign, a sign of the unity of the human race, as the one family of God, plus also it is meant to be a means of bringing that unity about. And so the new Pope will have an ability to listen to others about what are the best means to achieve that unity.

The new Pope will be well aware of Christ’s command to Peter to confirm His brothers and sisters in His faith. So he will try in his words, and in his deeds, in his attitudes and approaches, to renew and revive faith in the hearts and minds of those whose faith is withering. He will do so in his care and concern for the poor and the oppressed of the world, through clearly and courageously announcing Jesus Christ, Him crucified, to a world that is desperately hungry for good news.

The new Pope will be a man who is himself filled with hope and who will share that hope with the rest of us, by reminding us of the fantastic promises which Jesus has made. He will remind us especially of the promise to remain with us until the end of time, by drawing our attention to the divine mercy for which so many millions are waiting. Finally, he will remind us of that promise by gently but firmly, focusing our sights on the power of Jesus who has promised to be with his disciples until the end of time.

We know that, as a disciple of Christ, the new Holy Father will certainly feel the need and the joy of bearing witness to the fact that God revealed Himself in Christ. And he will do so, I am sure, without any reservation or hesitation but also in the knowledge that Christ and His Spirit are already present in all who live sincerely according to their religious beliefs and convictions.

The new Pope will also engage in respectful dialogue, I am sure, with all genuinely religious people, knowing that the Holy Spirit inspires every search of the human spirit, for truth and goodness and ultimately for God. In that way he will build up trust and friendship, the kind of trust and friendship that comes from an appreciation of one another’s religious families and that will be a good thing.

So tonight we ask the Holy Spirit to create a space in the hearts and minds of the electors where the divine inspirations can be heard and welcomed so that we will get a Shepherd who will walk in the ways of the Lord. A Pope whose ever watchful care will bring to the world, God’s abundant blessing. May we get a Pope who will be an example of goodness, after the model of John Paul II. A Pope who will open our hearts and minds to put our trust, not in ourselves, not in our own powers, abilities and talents, but in the Good News brought by Jesus Christ.