Before the Conclave opens tomorrow, the Cardinals each celebrated yesterday their Mass . The opportunity for the public to get to know them.
Brazilians, Americans, Congolese, Filipinos ... Thousands of devotees from all continents acted yesterday as "fervent fan" in Rome participating in Masses celebrated by "their" cardinals in various Roman churches in congregations where the faithful rubbed shoulders with journalists.
Two days before the conclave to elect the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church these celebrations allowed one to approach the "papabili" most often cited, such as the Brazilian Odilo Scherer and Italian Angelo Scola, to get an idea on those who have a chance to succeed Benedict XVI during this week, to hear the last message they deliver through their homilies and examine the image they give to public opinion.
"If you are elected Pope ..."
It was also an opportunity to encourage some of their favorites "I hope this is the last time that you enter here as cardinal and I also hope that if you are elected pope, this is the first Church you visit, " said Father Stefano Guernelli, rector of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria to the American Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
Cited among the possible "papabile", he relied on the parable of the Prodigal Son to discuss secularism that grows in western countries. "People leave the Father, the Church, for many reasons, ignorance, negative experiences, scandals, spiritual mediocrity," he said during his homily before inviting the audience to "pray for the Holy Spirit enables the Church to choose a new pope who will strengthen us in our faith and make more visible the love of the Lord ".
The perfect Italian of the Brazilian
In the homily of his Italian counterpart Angelo Scola, one of the favorites to the throne of St. Peter, who celebrated Mass in the Church of the Holy Apostles, in the heart of Rome, this prayer was to be heard: " Give us a holy pastor who builds the Church with the testimony of his life. "
Among the faithful present, opinions differed on the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan. Called "a good man [who] would be a good leader to help strengthen the Church" by Maria Bettini, 69 years old, he left in more doubt Giuseppina Fazzo, an employee of a hairdresser, aged 47 years who thought: "We need a radical change in the Church and I do not know if this is the man for the job."
Odilo Scherer set a different tone for another great favorite among the Papabili. The Cardinal Archbishop of Sao Paolo presided for his part over a multiethnic Mass in the Church of Sant'Andrea, on the Quirinal Hill. With a score of religious including an African, Brazilians and Italians, he refers to "hard times" which traverse the Church, but also to those more "joyful and full of hope."
In perfect Italian, he urged the faithful to "pray for the Conclave." "I had the impression of seeing the likeness of Pope Wojtyla, his spirit and the same force," enthused an Italian.
At a Colombian journalist who asked him if he knew who had the best chance of being elected Bishop Scherer soberly replied to fifty microphones and cameras : "The Mass was beautiful, is not it? '
Pride in housekeeping
In the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who also is favoured by commentators predicting the outcome , returned to the abdication of Benedict XVI saying, "I have no doubt that he made his decision according to the will of God and for the good of the Church, " he expressed his approval. Referring to the conclave, he invited people to pray "for the Holy Spirit to tell the cardinals whom God has chosen."
In the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana, where hundreds of them Filipinos prayed for their foals, is found Cardina Luis Antonio Tagle, Asia's most cited among the potential Popes . "We are all cleaners here, explained Meliros Gangani (53). We really hope he will win .... we would feel much better about our leaders." Her neighbour, Evelyn adds: "It would make me proud to be Filipino.
Hope for Congo
At a time when it is still allowed to dream of the first Papal representative from a developing country, the continent does not acknowledge defeat. The Archbishop of Kinshasa, Laurent Monsengwo, could be the first African pope. This is at least what the Father Justin Golo taking part in a Congolese Rite Mass (also known as the Zairian Rite) in the little church of the Nativity, near Piazza Navona
The same rite taking place in Congo
"He has everything- he worked for forty years in the Vatican, speaks 14 languages, is fluent in Latin and was President of the Synod for Africa," he pleads for his candidate. He does not exclude a political aspect: "If elected Pope, for the Congolese, it would be a liberation as was the case with Wojtyla of Poland."
For Father Justin, "Europe has much more to give. In Africa, the churches are filled. The Pope must come from a country where faith is still alive."
How Cardinal Mosengwo celebrates Mass- click on the label below for more examples of Cardinals celebrating Mass- some horrors! It is more revealing than much commentary on how they would form the Church.