by Card. Oswald Gracias
The archbishop of Mumbai thanks the pope who led the Church in implementing the Second Vatican Council with wisdom and clarity. The Year of Faith and the New Evangelisation are his gifts, which the new pontiff will have to continue.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - As I prepare to leave for Rome, emotions of gratitude, love and affection fill my heart for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. Hopefully, I will be present for the last public appearance of His Holiness. My imminent thoughts are for Pope Benedict XVI whose deep knowledge of the mystery, humility, life of prayer, deep appreciation of beauty in the Church and in the world marked his significant but short pontificate. I also carry with me the gratitude, love and prayers of India's 18 million Catholics for our Beloved Holy Father.
It is very humbling to be at the conclave. I have been spending many hours in personal prayer and meditation, asking for God's most Holy Spirit to instruct my heart to be an instrument of the Lord's grace and providence to fulfil faithfully this service, entrusted upon me as a cardinal, and upon the College of Cardinals, to elect the next Pope after discerning together the signs of the times for the Church and the world.
In a very special way, I have been interceding with St Francis Xavier and the Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata-both loved by hundreds of millions and whose mortal remains are in our beloved country-and with the Blessed John Paul II, whom I knew personally.
I have written to all the churches in India, asking them to have a special Mass during the days of the conclave. I asked all convents, monasteries and religious houses of contemplative life to pray especially for the election of the next pope.
Peter is the rock. Peter is vital to the Church. Our Lord entrusted the keys to Peter. Peter is Jesus' gift to the Church, a teacher who guards the faith, a sign of unity that confirms the brothers in faith.
Continuity in the teachings of Vatican II will be the main thrust of the new pontiff, just as it was for Pope Benedict XVI who clearly stood in continuity with his predecessors.
Both the New Evangelisation and the Year of Faith are gifts to the Church that clearly show Pope Benedict XVI's convictions about the need for renewal in the Church. But they are also in continuity with the Second Vatican Council to be carried through to the next pontificate. These are treasures for the Church universal.
It is fundamental that we are completely open to the Spirit. It is vital, essential and meaningful that there should be no distractions during the days of the conclave, that as one heart and mind, we serve the Church to elect the new pope.
Our Lord's assurance, that "I am with you always", dismisses any concern that might arise. In faith, I know that the Holy Spirit is ever-present to guide the Church. We have always had popes according to the need of the times to guide the Church through the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
Finally and more importantly, I recall and I am strengthened by the Holy Father's own words during the Mass for the election of the Roman Pontiff: 'Let us ask our Lord insistently tha the will again give us a pastor according to his heart, a pastor who will lead us to the knowledge of Christ, to his love, to true joy."
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)



Prayer Request said…
We will dutifully join India's 18 million Catholics in prayer for the Beloved Holy Father.