VATICAN CITY (WUSA9)-- Washington's Archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, said mass on Sunday at his adopted church in Rome, San Pietro in Vincoli -- which translates to St. Peter in Chains.
Cardinal Wuerl is one of many cardinals saying Sunday mass at their titular churches, the parishes that according to church tradition are assigned to them as clergy of Rome, creating a symbolic bond with the pope.
Before mass, Cardinal Wuerl stopped to talk with WUSA9'S Bruce Johnson. Wuerl kept his pledge not to divulge private conversations among the cardinals to reporters. He's one of a handful of American candidates for the top job in the church.
The cardinals have been holding meetings and informal gatherings ahead of electing a successor to Benedict XVI. Several church leaders acknowledged the historic moment at Mass.
"This Sunday is also special because today we prepare for the conclave," said Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, in his sermon at Holy Mary of Victory church. O'Malley once pastored in Washington. "Let us pray that the Holy Spirit illumines the church to choose a new pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the good shepherd."
Cardinal Bernard Law was also at his titular church in Rome. Law was forced to resign as Boston's Archbishop after church records suggested that he helped cover up for priests who sexually abused boys.
In an exclusive comment to WUSA9's Bruce Johnson, Law said he is looking for Pope who is spiritual.
For more coverage, visit the 'Election of New Pope' section.