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PRAYER FOR POPE BENEDICT XVI

May the Lord guide your days ahead so you may be a bridge builder. May your prayerful heart let you feel just as comfortable in a poor ghetto as you do in Saint Peter's. May you use your great intellect to speak to the deepest hurts of the people both within and outside the Catholic Church.

May people of different cultures learn from your humble spirituality. May you be gifted with the wisdom to speak to those who believe, as well as to those struggling to believe. May you be a beacon of light to those who have long since given up on life. May your enthusiasm for God lead all to see the mystery and the connectedness of all creation.

We ask also that God might inform your soul with a true spiritual openness to the way other religions and other Christian denominations have sought to find their way to God. Without compromising the truth as you see it, may you find a way to treat members of other faiths as partners in the work of creation, the work of healing, and ultimately in the work of redemption.

May you receive the strength you need to travel the world as a spiritual leader for all people. May you take the time to listen to children, as well as the elderly. May you enjoy your newfound ministry to unite people, even when they would prefer to be divided. May you be guided by Saint Benedict, who proposed for his followers that they take a fourth vow -- the vow of generosity.

You are a policeman's son and you have lived simply. You have excelled at teaching, writing and searching for the truth. You have been asked to be the gatekeeper for those who have gone astray. Now you are asked to be the pope and father for all Catholics. This new calling comes from God and can only be sustained with the help of God and the prayers of your church. We all know that the burdens on you will be many.

We rejoice when you invite us to pray for you. We all need divine inspiration in this often broken world. There will be many who will need your help. Make sure you take special time for the sick, the homeless, the hungry, the disabled and the lonely. They all need to see that they have a place in God's kingdom on Earth, and in you may they find the face of God.

Holy father, there is always a temptation to be either too liberal or too conservative. We only ask that you be authentic. You have labored well in trying to articulate the faith. Now you are asked to travel the world to help faith be lived out in people's everyday lives. We live in a time in which many people are broken. Terrorism, repression, secularism, AIDS and poverty have touched that world.

We ask you to be our priest. We need you as pastor for the entire Catholic church. We also ask you to be the pastor for all men and woman of good will who are struggling to find God and each other. We need you to be in dialogue with the world, to build bridges to all people, to protect the dignity and the human rights of all people, and to lead us to peace.

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