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Below is the full English text of Cardinal Angelo Sodano’s homily, courtesy of Vatican Radio, given at the Latin Mass in St Peter's Rome, for the Cardinals traditionally held before a conclave starts.
The "Missa pro eligendo romano pontifice, " the Mass for the election of a Roman Pontiff, was concelebrated by ALL members of the College of Cardinals under the
presidency of their Dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. Cardinal Sodano has been leading the pre-Conclave General Congregations.
The Mass was the final liturgical act of the College before entering into Conclave later this afternoon for the election of a new Bishop of Rome. Cardinal Sodano's homily outlines the spiritual significance of the task ahead of the Cardinal Electors.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Forever I will sing the mercies of the Lord” is the hymn that resounds once again near the tomb of the Apostle Peter in this important hour of the history of the Holy Church of Christ. These are the words of Psalm 88 that have flowed from our lips to adore, give thanks and beg the Father who is in heaven. “Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo”: is the beautiful Latin text that has introduced us into contemplation of the One who always watches over his Church with love, sustaining her on her journey down through the ages, and giving her life through his Holy Spirit.
Such an interior attitude is ours today as we wish to offer ourselves with Christ to the Father who is in heaven, to thank him for the loving assistance that he always reserves for the Holy Church, and in particular for the brilliant Pontificate that he granted to us through the life and work of the 265th Successor of Peter, the beloved and venerable Pontiff Benedict XVI, to whom we renew in this moment all of our gratitude.
At the same time today, we implore the Lord, that through the pastoral solicitude of the Cardinal Fathers, He may soon grant another Good Shepherd to his Holy Church. In this hour, faith in the promise of Christ sustains us in the indefectible character of the church. Indeed Jesus said to Peter: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.” (Mt. 16:18).
My brothers, the readings of the Word of God that we have just heard can help us better understand the mission that Christ has entrusted to Peter and to his successors.
1. The Message of Love
The first reading has offered us once again a well-known messianic oracle from the second part of the book of Isaiah that is known as “the book of consolation” (Isaiah 40-66). It is a prophecy addressed to the people of Israel who are in exile in Babylon. Through this prophecy, God announces that he will send a Messiah full of mercy, a Messiah who would say: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me… he has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the wounds of broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to prisoners, and to announce a year of mercy of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
The fulfillment of such a prophecy is fully realized in Jesus, who came into the world to make present the love of the Father for all people. It is a love which is especially felt in contact with suffering, injustice, poverty and all human frailty, both physical and moral. It is especially found in the well known encyclical of Pope John Paul II, “Dives in Misericordia” where we read: “It is precisely the mode and sphere in which love manifests itself that in biblical language is called “mercy” (n. 3).
This mission of mercy has been entrusted by Christ to the pastors of his Church. It is a mission that must be embraced by every priest and bishop, but is especially entrusted to the Bishop of Rome, Shepherd of the universal Church. It is in fact to Peter that Jesus said: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?… Feed my lambs (John 21:15). In his commentary on these words, St. Augustine wrote: “May it be therefore the task of love to feed the flock of the Lord” (In Iohannis Evangelium, 123, 5; PL 35, 1967).
It is indeed this love that urges the Pastors of the Church to undertake their mission of service of the people of every age, from immediate charitable work even to the highest form of service, that of offering to every person the light of the Gospel and the strength of grace.
This is what Benedict XVI wrote in his Lenten Message for this year (#3). “Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbour than to break the bread of the word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God: evangelization is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person. As the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, the proclamation of Christ is the first and principal contributor to development (cf. n. 16).”
2. The message of unity
The second reading is taken from the letter to the Ephesians., written by the Apostle Paul in this very city of Rome during his first imprisonment (62-63 A.D.) It is a sublime letter in which Paul presents the mystery of Christ and his Church. While the first part is doctrinal (ch.1-3), the second part, from which today’s reading is taken, has a much more pastoral tone (ch. 4-6). In this part Paul teaches the practical consequences of the doctrine that was previously presented and begins with a strong appeal for church unity: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4,1-3).
St. Paul then explains that in the unity of the Church, there is a diversity of gifts, according to the manifold grace of Christ, but this diversity is in function of the building up of the one body of Christ. “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph 4:11-12).
In our text, 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 (Eph 4:16). Each of us is therefore called to cooperate with the Successor of Peter, the visible foundation of such an ecclesial unity.
3. The Mission of the Pope
Brothers and sisters in Christ – today’s Gospel takes us back to the Last Supper, when the Lord said to his Apostles: “This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). The text is linked to the first reading from the Messiah’s actions in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, reminding us that the fundamental attitude of the Pastors of the Church is love. It is this love that urges us to offer our own lives for our brothers and sisters. Jesus himself tells us: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12).
The basic attitude of every Shepherd is therefore to lay down one’s life for his sheep (John 10:15). This also applies to the Successor of Peter, Pastor of the Universal Church. As high and universal the pastoral office, so much greater must be the charity of the Shepherd. In the heart of every Successor of Peter, the words spoken one day by the Divine Master to the humble fisherman of Galilee have resounded: “Diligis me plus his? Pasce agnos meos… pasce oves meas”; “Do you love me more than these? Feed my lambs… feed my sheep!” (John 21:15-17)
In the wake of this service of love toward the Church and towards all of humanity, the last popes have been builders of so many good initiatives for people and for the international community, tirelessly promoting justice and peace. Let us pray that the future Pope may continue this unceasing work on the world level.
Moreover, this service of charity is part of the intimate nature of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us of this fact when he said: “The service of charity is also a constitutive element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being; (Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio Intima Ecclesiae natura, November 11, 2012, introduction; cf. Deus caritas est, n. 25).
It is a mission of charity that is proper to the Church, and in a particular way is proper to the Church of Rome, that in the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, is the Church that “presides in charity” “praesidet caritati” (cf. Ad Romanos (preface).; Lumen Gentium, n. 13).
My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a Pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart. We ask this of the Lord, through the intercession of Mary most holy, Queen of the Apostles and of all the Martyrs and Saints, who through the course of history, made this Church of Rome glorious through the ages. Amen.
Here, in the Vatican’s formal order of precedence, is a list of the 115 cardinal electors expected to participate in the conclave.
– Giovanni Battista Re, retired prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
– Tarcisio Bertone, chamberlain.
– Antonios Naguib, retired Coptic Catholic patriarch, Alexandria, Egypt.
– Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch.
– Godfried Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels.
– Joachim Meisner of Cologne, Germany.
– Nicolas Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
– Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles.
– Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana.
– Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal.
– Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
– Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara, Mexico.
– Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid.
– Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan.
– Polycarp Pengo of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
– Christoph Schonborn of Vienna.
– Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City.
– Francis E. George of Chicago.
– Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
– Crescenzio Sepe of Naples, Italy.
– Walter Kasper, retired president, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
– Ivan Dias, retired prefect, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
– Geraldo Majella Agnelo of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.
– Audrys Juozas Backis of Vilnius, Lithuania.
– Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago de Chile.
– Julio Terrazas Sandoval of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.
– Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa.
– Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
– Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru.
– Claudio Hummes, retired prefect, Congregation for Clergy.
– Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
– Jose da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon, Portugal.
– Severino Poletto of Turin, Italy.
– Karl Lehmann of Mainz, Germany.
– Angelo Scola of Milan.
– Anthony Olubunmi Okogie of Lagos, Nigeria.
– Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum, Sudan.
– Carlos Amigo Vallejo of Seville, Spain.
– Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia.
– Ennio Antonelli, retired president, Pontifical Council for the Family.
– Peter Turkson, president, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
– Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, India.
– George Pell of Sydney.
– Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, Croatia.
– Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
– Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France.
– Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary.
– Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
– Agostino Vallini, papal vicar for Rome.
– Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela.
– Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, France.
– Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
– Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.
– Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland.
– Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy.
– Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland.
– Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain.
– Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris.
– Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, Italy.
– Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal.
– Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India.
– Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, Mexico.
– Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
– Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo.
– John Njue of Nairobi, Kenya.
– Raul Vela Chiriboga of Quito, Ecuador.
– Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo.
– Paolo Romeo of Palermo, Italy.
– Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.
– Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil.
– Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, Poland.
– Albert Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
– Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany.
– George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, major archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
– Thomas Collins of Toronto.
– Dominik Duka of Prague, Czech Republic.
– Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands.
– Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy.
– Timothy M. Dolan of New York.
– Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin.
– John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.
– Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
– John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria.
– Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia.
– Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines.
– Jean-Louis Tauran, president, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
– Attilio Nicora, retired president, Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.
– William Joseph Levada, retired prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
– Franc Rode, retired prefect, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
– Leonardo Sandri, prefect, Congregation for Eastern Churches.
– Giovanni Lajolo, retired president, commission governing Vatican City State.
– Paul Josef Cordes, retired president, Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
– Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
– Stanislaw Rylko, president, Pontifical Council for the Laity.
– Raffaele Farina, retired head, Vatican Secret Archives and the Vatican Library.
– Angelo Amato, prefect, Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
– Robert Sarah, president, Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
– Francesco Monterisi, retired secretary, Congregation for Bishops.
– Raymond L. Burke, prefect, Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature.
– Kurt Koch, president, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
– Paolo Sardi, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
– Mauro Piacenza, prefect, Congregation for Clergy.
– Velasio De Paolis, papal delegate overseeing reform of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi.
– Gianfranco Ravasi, president, Pontifical Council for Culture.
– Fernando Filoni, prefect, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
– Manuel Monteiro de Castro, head, Apostolic Penitentiary.
– Santos Abril Castello, archpriest of Basilica of St. Mary Major.
– Antonio Maria Veglio, president, Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.
– Giuseppe Bertello, president, commission governing Vatican City State.
– Francesco Coccopalmerio, president, Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
– Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
– Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
– Domenico Calcagno, president, Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.
– Giuseppe Versaldi, president, Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
– James M. Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.