Celebrating the Election of a New Pope

Celebrating the Election of a New Pope
In the last few weeks many liturgies have been celebrated in remembrance of the late Pope John Paul II and to pray for the Church in the time of transition between leaders.
When the conclave of Cardinals has reached its decision, it will be once again to the Church’s ritual books, especially the Sacramentary and the Lectionary, that we turn for liturgical resources to use when the church gathers in prayer for the next successor of Peter and for the Church universal.
The Sacramentary sets out suitable texts for a Mass in celebration of the election of a new Pope in the section of entitled ‘Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions’ under the heading ‘For the Pope’. Other appropriate prayers are located under ‘For the Universal Church’ in the same section.
Appropriate Scripture readings are to be found in the Common of Pastors (Lectionary, vol. 2, pp. 1408-1436).
During the Easter season, the Mass for the Pope may be celebrated on any day except Sunday. On Sundays the newly elected Pope can be mentioned in the introduction to the Mass, the hymns, the intercessions, and the preaching.
Here are two of the suggested Mass prayers:

source of eternal life and truth,
give courage to your shepherd N.,
a spirit of courage and right judgement,
a spirit of knowledge and love.
By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care
may he, as successor to the apostle Peter and vicar of Christ,
build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world.
(Opening Prayer)

God our Father,
we have eaten at your holy table.
By the power of this sacrament,
make your Church firm in unity and love,
and grant strength and salvation
to your servant Pope N.
together with the flock you have entrusted to his care.
(Prayer after Communion)

This reading from the first letter of Peter listed in the Common of Pastors would be particularly apt:
I have something to tell your elders: I am an elder myself, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and with you I have a share in the glory that is to be revealed. Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow. When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the crown of unfading glory. (I Peter 5:1-4)

This would be a good time for the singing of the ancient Christian hymn, Te Deum. This hymn, which proclaims the central mysteries of Christian faith, is appropriate for liturgical use, but is generally unknown except to priests and some religious who pray it in the Office of Readings on Sundays and solemnities. It is prescribed for liturgical use only on rare occasions such as the ordination of a bishop, the blessing of an abbot or abbess, at canonizations and beatifications, and at the end of a Holy Year.


Elizabeth Harrington