Two Canadian cardinals have called for special prayers for the frail leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Marc Cardinal Ouellet has asked all Canadians to show their support for Pope John Paul II, who underwent a tracheotomy yesterday at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. 

"I'm asking people to pray for him, particularly those of the Catholic faith, to show him our solidarity," said the archbishop of Quebec City.

Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, the archbishop of Montreal, has invited people to a special mass at the downtown Mary Queen of the World Cathedral at noon today.

Cardinal Ouellet, who is among 120 cardinals worldwide with a vote to select the next leader of the Church, has dismissed a suggestion his trip to Italy next week means a vote on replacing the ailing pontiff is imminent.

"I wouldn't want my departure to be interpreted as meaning there's an emergency situation in Rome," Ouellet told reporters in Quebec City yesterday. "This meeting (beginning Tuesday) has been in the works for several months and it's simply normal Church business."

Ouellet repeated previous statements from earlier this month that he doesn't believe the Pope should step down.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Toronto told the Canadian Press that the archdiocese is not planning anything "special," such as vigils, because the Pope is being prayed for at daily masses.

"We don't have to do anything extra because we already got the best we have and that's mass,” said Suzanne Scorsone. "We love the Holy Father and are praying for him."

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