Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his inaugral mass
25 April 2005, VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI appealed for unity among Christians and vowed to listen to God's will as he celebrated a mass on Sunday that formally installed him as the new leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
25 April 2005
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI appealed for unity among Christians and vowed to listen to God's will as he celebrated a mass on Sunday that formally installed him as the new leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
The 265th pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church delivered his closely-watched sermon during a solemn but also festive open-air service of pomp and splendour in Rome's St. Peter's Square.
The nearly three-hour long ceremony was attended by the church's hierarchy, scores of world leaders and an estimated 300,000 ordinary members of the faithful amid heavy security in the Italian capital.
Roads around the Vatican were shut to traffic while Nato spy planes monitored the sky above the city.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the brother of the United States president, Florida governor Jeb Bush, King Juan Carlos of Spain and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, were among those in the delegations from more than 130 countries attending the ceremony.
Though not as extensive as the one that attended the monumental funeral of Pope John Paul II on 8 April, the list of dignitaries was nevertheless impressive and underscored the increasingly global dimension of pontificates.
"I greet with great joy and gratitude all of you gathered here," Benedict said in his salute to church members, lay faithful, fellow Christians, Jews, "believers and non-believers alike".
Speaking three weeks after the death of his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict urged the faithful not to feel abandoned by the void caused by his departure.
Polish-born John Paul II was a strong-willed man who gained enormous popularity during his 26-year pontificate.
Benedict, by contrast, is seen as a shy theologian who finds himself more at home in libraries than in public. He nevertheless appeared visibly pleased and comfortable as he presided over the ceremony that effectively ended the papal transition.
Addressing the crowd and the millions who followed the ritual via television, Benedict appealed for support as he prepared to embark on what he described as an "enormous task which truly exceeds all human capacity".
"I am not alone," the pope said. "And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me."
At 78 the oldest cardinal to be elected pope in centuries, Benedict also described the church as very much alive and "young".
The German-born pontiff - who as cardinal spent decades staunchly defending church orthodoxy as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - also sought to dispel his image as an authoritative hardliner who is not prepared to compromise.
"My real programme of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history," the pope said to applause.
The pope also made references to growing demands for greater "collegiality" (more democracy) within the church and for reconciliation with other Christian denominations.
"Let us do all we can to pursue the path towards unity," he said.
As a man who grew up in Nazi Germany and who as a young teenager was forcibly enrolled into the Hitler Youth, the pope also felt it necessary to speak out against totalitarianism.
"How often we wish that God would show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity."
"The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man."
Repeated applause interrupted his speech, delivered under a tepid Roman sun in what was ultimately a festive occasion, the inauguration of his pontificate.
"The sun is shining, so God is smiling today," said Speranza, a Roman grandmother attending the Mass with her six-year-old granddaughter Lina.
Around them, more than 300,000 people crowded in the square, many of them from Poland and from the pope's native Germany.
The ceremony started inside the basilica with a brief prayer over the tomb of St. Peter, the church's first pope, and ended with the pope touring the square on an open-top jeep.
Donning a gold robe and gold mitre, Benedict appeared at ease in his new role as he smiled and imparted his blessing to the cheering crowd.
During the service, the pope was presented with two symbols of his authority, the Papal Pallium, a traditional gold-embroidered vestment, and the Fisherman's Ring.
The ring will be smashed after his death to certify the end of his pontificate.
Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope last Tuesday by a conclave attended by 115 cardinal electors. The election process lasted just 24 hours and was one of the briefest in recent history.
Subject: German news