ROME — A dozen bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church prayed for the assistance of the Holy Spirit as they met in Rome to begin their second attempt at electing a patriarch for their church.
The bishops had met in Lebanon for two weeks beginning June 22, but no candidate had garnered the two-thirds vote necessary to succeed Patriarch Grégoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, who died in Beirut May 25.
In accordance with church law, after the unsuccessful election, the bishops turned to Pope Francis. He asked them to gather in Rome and begin the electoral process again Sept. 22 after two days of prayer and reflection.
Preaching at the opening Divine Liturgy Sept. 20, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, told the bishops that just as they believe “the elements of the earth, such as bread and wine” are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the body and blood of Christ, they must believe they, too, can be transformed by the Spirit.
“We who are constituted as ministers of the Eucharist, who invoke in the epiclesis the outpouring of the Spirit of consecration, we risk at times setting limits to the Paraclete, keeping in ourselves, in our hearts or in our judgment of others areas of shadow where the only criterion is personal or worse, that of the spirit of the world,” the cardinal said.
“With the bread and the wine,” he told them, “place your personal lives and those of your brother bishops on the altar, asking for yourselves and for them the gift of purification, transformation and mission.”
After decades of suffering persecution and the ravages of war in their traditional homelands, members of the Armenian Catholic Church now live in communities scattered across the globe, Sandri said. He prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide the bishops because their people “need shepherds who will lead them, seek them out, and know how to call them by name like the good shepherd described in the Gospel.”