'Thrilled' Benedict XVI asks cardinals for support

22nd April 2005, Comments 0 comments

22 April 2005, VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the "thrilling" reception he has received from the faithful and asked for support during a meeting with cardinals on Friday.

22 April 2005

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the "thrilling" reception he has received from the faithful and asked for support during a meeting with cardinals on Friday.

"My first encounter with the faithful in St. Peter's Square was truly thrilling," the newly-elected pope told cardinals during an audience at the Vatican.

An estimated 100,000 people crowded the famous piazza on Tuesday and greeted German-born Joseph Ratzinger with applause and hurrahs as he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica for the first time as pope.

Since then, Benedict XVI has been accompanied by cheers every time he has left the Vatican, reacting with beaming smiles to the crowds.

During his meeting with cardinals Friday, many of whom had picked him as pope during this week's conclave, the 78-year-old pope asked for "support" and "unity".

"Venerable brothers, to you go my most personal of thanks for the trust you have placed in me by electing me Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the Universal Church," the pope said.

"I beg you never to leave me without your support," he added.

Benedict XVI spoke of his new mission as a humble act of service, rather than an honour, recalling that the Lord had sent Jesus Christ "to serve, rather than be served".

As cardinals approached him individually in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, the pope did not hesitate to break protocol by standing up to support the oldest or most frail members of the College of Cardinals.

"All of us will now go back to our own quarters and return to work, but spiritually we will be united in faith," the pope concluded, adding that he would always be grateful for their treasured help.

Such words were more than mere formalities, Vatican experts noted, as they appeared to suggest the pope was open to addressing one of the key issues of his nascent pontificate - the growing demand for collegiality, a term indicating greater democracy within the church.

After confirming the incumbent ministers of the Holy See's 'government' - the Roman Curia - on Thursday, church experts were now turning their attention to who the pope will name as the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a church body which defends orthodoxy and which he headed for 24 years.

Among those tipped for the post were Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a close colleague of Ratzinger when he was still a cardinal.

Though he is often described as a hard-line conservative, it was reported on Friday that the native Bavarian had been working on a number of reforms concerning key elements of church doctrine shortly before his election as pope.

These include the possibility of allowing remarried divorcees to take Holy Communion, and the elevation of the pensionable age for bishops from 75 to 80, Rome-based daily La Repubblica reported.

The pope has already signalled his intention of working hard for reconciliation with other Christian churches and has vowed to "strengthen cooperation" with Jews.

"I am confident, with the help of God, of the continued dialogue and strengthening cooperation with the sons and daughters of the Jewish people," Benedict XVI said in a letter to Rome's Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni.

Di Segni was among those invited to the pope's inaugural mass, which will take place on Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

An estimated 500,000 people, including 100,000 from his native Germany, were expected to attend the solemn ceremony.

Some 150 foreign delegations were also heading for the Italian capital. Among confirmed guests are German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and US vice-president Dick Cheney.

King Juan Carlos of Spain was also expected, but not Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose Socialist government has recently approved legislation speeding-up divorce procedures and allowing homosexuals to marry. The laws have caused tension between Madrid and the Vatican, which strongly opposes same-sex unions and the dissolution of marriage.

Heavy security will be in place for Sunday's mass, an elaborate ceremony likely to last more than two hours.

The area will be declared a no-fly zone while Nato has confirmed it will send its Awacs spy plane to monitor the sky above the Italian capital.


Subject: German news

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