Cardinal urges Catholics to ask for the intercession of the Virgin Mary from his titular church in Rome

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has asked Catholics in England and Wales to pray for the cardinals who will vote for the new pope this week.

The Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster urged the faithful to ask for the intercession of the Virgin Mary that the cardinal electors be inspired by the Holy Spirit in their choice.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was speaking from his titular church in Rome two days before the conclave was due to begin. Many cardinals celebrated Mass at their titular churches on Sunday.

“This is my church – Santa Maria sopra Minerva. It’s a beautiful church. Every cardinal has a church in Rome because in the early days, it was the parish priests that elected the Bishop of Rome. Every cardinal today has a church in this great city,” he said.

“We’re standing here in front of the body of St Catherine of Siena and there are a lot of people coming in – not only tourists but people who want to come in to pray.”

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor has taken part in the discussions about who the Church needs as the new pope, but will not be able to vote in the conclave because he is over 80.

He said: “These days when we’re thinking about the legacy of Benedict XVI and also the cardinals who will vote for the new pope, I think it’s also nice to remember – as this church is dedicated to Our Lady – to ask especially for her intercession, Mary, Mother of the Church, that the cardinals will be blessed and the Holy Spirit will be with them and that they choose a man who is to be the successor of Saint Peter.

“It’s not only the cardinals who will be praying, we should pray with them. I hope all of you – especially those of you in England and Wales – will be praying for the Cardinal electors and the Church at this time.”

Today the cardinals meet for their final general congregation before the conclave begins.