Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following invitation to all the Catholic faithful in Canada to pray to the Holy Spirit, that he may inspire the Cardinals who will begin their conclave on Tuesday, March 12:

March 8, 2013

For the more than 1.2 billion Christians around the world who are members of our Church, this is an important and solemn moment. The Cardinals of the Catholic Church, in prayer and meditation, free from interference by the outside world, will begin their Conclave to elect a new Successor to the Apostle Saint Peter.

The word “conclave” refers to a place with a key. Only a few staff are permitted occasional access to the Cardinals. They gather in prayer in the Sistine Chapel, just as before Pentecost the Apostles went to “the room upstairs” where they “constantly devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts of the Apostles, 1.13-14). The prayers of the Cardinals echo those almost 2,000 years ago: “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one … you have chosen” (Acts 1.24). This time, however, it is not Peter who summons the brethren and addresses them. It is the Cardinals, brothers in faith, who meet to discern the one whom the Lord has chosen to hand on the keys he has given Peter, “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16.18).

My brothers and sisters, I extend an invitation to you, on behalf of the Bishops of Canada and our brother Bishops around the world. The invitation comes from us as “successors of the Apostles, who together with the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, the visible Head of the whole Church, govern the house of the living God” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 18). We invite each of you to join the Cardinals and the whole Church in praying to the Holy Spirit to show who is to be chosen as the new Successor of Peter.

As a sign and instrument of unity and communion, the new Pope will be called to lead the successors of the Apostles and all the faithful in apostolic teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2.14, 37-42). Let us pray that he, with Peter and like Peter, will be bold and strong in his witness, standing with the Apostles, speaking out, exhorting those near and far away, and capable of moving hearts to conversion and reconciliation.

May our prayers themselves be a witness to our communion and unity as Church. May they strengthen and renew our belief as Catholics that “Jesus Christ, the Eternal Shepherd,” has “placed Blessed Peter over the other Apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion” (Lumen Gentium, no. 18).

+ Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Archbishop Smith has also written to the three Canadian Cardinals: His Eminence Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop Emeritus of Montreal; His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto; and His Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet, who as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops is a Cardinal of the Curia of the Holy See. The letter assures each of the three Cardinals that the Bishops of Canada are united with them in prayer, together with the prayers of the clergy, religious and all the faithful. The full text of the letters, along with more information on the conclave, can be found on the CCCB special webpage for the transition in the Holy See,