Cardinal Wuerl: Papal Conclave is Time of Silence and Prayer

Cardinal Wuerl describes a Papal Conclave as a time of prayer and silence; like a “very, very strong, very heavy retreat.”

He says that the cardinals will be focused on the aggressive secularism that is tearing at the faith all around the world, as well as other challenges. He asks for prayers from all of us, which I personally have already begun.

Our next pope will be tasked with leading us through times of great challenge. I am excited to learn who the Holy Spirit will send us.

The National Catholic Register article describing Cardinal Wuerl’s comments says in part:

The archbishop of Washington asks the Church to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.


– CNA/Estefania Aguirre

ROME — Attending a conclave is similar to going on a rigorous spiritual retreat that is pervaded by silence, according to Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
“It’s like going on a very, very strong, heavy retreat,” explained Cardinal Wuerl in an interview at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
“It’s heavy in the sense of leaving aside everything else, but this time the retreat master is the Holy Spirit,” he said.
He believes that while the conclave is focused on the actual voting, it is also a time of prayer and being open to the Holy Spirit. “I will be. And I’m sure it will be the same for all of the cardinals there, taking this time of quiet simply to open our hearts to that voice of the Spirit.”
Cardinal Wuerl assisted a sick cardinal at the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict..Since he was made a cardinal in 2010, this will be his first conclave as an elector.
“There’s a silence that pervades the entire conclave, particularly in the Sistine Chapel,” he said.
“I think that sustaining the serenity of spirit is why the whole idea of the conclave is quietness.”
According to the cardinal, the next Pope will have two major challenges: fighting secularism and being media savvy.
“Great secularism is pervading the Church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel,” the cardinal said.
“He will need to be able to reach out through all the means of communication today, especially social communication to be present all over the world,” he added.
Cardinal Wuerl said that while a pope cannot be physically present worldwide, he can use social media as a way to be present electronically.
He added that the most important thing for people to do now is to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.

Read more:

Vatican and Nuns Reach Agreement
Pope Francis Describes the Massacre of Armenians as 'Genocide.' Turkey Recalls Its Ambassador.
Turkey Says Pope's Remembrance of Armenian Genocide is Islamaphobia
Divine Mercy Novena: Praying for Those Who are Neither Hot nor Cold
  • Theodore Seeber

    Makes me glad it isn’t televised. I find CSPAN boring, this would be worse.

  • Amy

    “Silence.” Correct me if I am wrong, but we will not hear the name of the Pope during the Eucharistic Prayer. Yes, pray! Unceasingly!

  • Oregon Catholic

    Since I find social media to be largely odious, evil, and narcissistic in the extreme, I find his pronouncement very unsettling. It’s like he is saying the new pope needs to use the devil’s playground to further the mission of the Church. Smoke of satan indeed.

    • Bill S

      OC. What are you talking about?

      “It’s like he is saying the new pope needs to use the devil’s playground to further the mission of the Church. Smoke of satan indeed.”

      Benedict was on Twitter. This so called “devil’s playground” had shined light on the darkest recesses of corruption, hypocracy and superstition. Why are you against it? You are using it, so it can’t be that bad to you.

      • Oregon Catholic

        Let me clarify. I don’t consider blogs like Patheos, where ideas can be fully discussed, to be “social media”. I’m talking about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. etc.

        Even blogs can become pretty serious occasions of sin but the good ones have enough redeeming value to keep using them responsibly.

  • Frank Robinson

    Cardinal Wuerl: The simple pilgrim, the professor, in Biblical times the invisible God showed strength as simple animals showed a distinct unity. Swiss guard Cpl Urs , the symbolism is a meager chance of knowing and believing in your duties. Experiencing the military advantage of His power is by chance or Destiny, know that the professor sought an answer between that Cpl and the risen soldiers.

  • Teresa Rice

    Praying for the Holy Spirit to guide the Cardinals as they gather to elect a new Pope. I think Cardinal Wuerl is correct when he says the two things the next Pope needs to make a priority is fighting secularism and being media savvy. God Bless.

  • Katie Angel


    i think the next Pope needs to find a way to adequately address the pedophile scandal and get the Church beyond that. It is too easy for people to turn everything around to be about that as long as we keep having new revelations of abuse and the attendant shuffling of priests. As a Church, we must clean God’s house and make it fit for the future so that our message can truly be heard.

    • Oregon Catholic

      I agree. A thorough and very public housecleaning, where significant guilty heads will roll, needs to be their first priority. Until they do that and regain some of the respect that has been lost, they will never be able to fully evangelize the Gospel. The hypocrite label and general mistrust will constantly follow them and undermine whatever they do. It frankly amazes me that they don’t get it yet. One can hope the Holy Spirit will lead them to it.

      • Theodore Seeber

        Significant guilty heads have rolled. There is good reason why Fr. Angel Perez is in Marion County Jail where he belongs.

        • Oregon Catholic

          That’s good but he is a recent criminal and his victim went straight to the police so there was no chance for a cover-up and justice was swift. We will always have offender priests but they can be dealt with on an individual basis like Perez. I’m talking about the Mahonys of the global hierarchy and their complicit staffs and perps still being protected all around the world. There are plenty and we haven’t begun to see the last of the lawsuits and scandals, especially in other countries. This is going to be with the Church for a very long time and the faster they realize that nothing ever stays buried now and get proactive the better for everyone.

          • Ted Seeber

            The point is that the Church *HAS* largely cleaned house. Within 20 years, EVERY offender that escaped justice on Earth, will face justice in Hell. NONE of them have any influence left, which is why Angel Perez was arrested before the Archbishop even knew what was going on. The system works.

            • Oregon catholic

              Perez was arrested because the victim went to the police instead of the archdiocese. Finn in Missouri was still protecting a pedophile priest by not going to police with what he knew just a year or so ago. And now we have a convicted bishop still in his office.

        • Oregon Catholic

          I think ‘Vatileaks’ was as earthshaking to the Vatican as Boston was to the laity. I think the aftershocks are still reverberating throughout the Vatican and they are trying to regain their footing. They have discovered that no one can be trusted to keep secrets anymore and they don’t know yet how to deal with their new reality.

          The Vatican that is used to moving with the speed of a glacier doesn’t have that luxury anymore. I also think they know that they are sitting on a mountain of damning evidence of the decades of cover-up and financial mismanagement they always thought would be in their control and they are wondering what the extent of the damage will be.