Benedict XVI officially installed
Calls 'listening' his 'program of governance'
By Stacy Meichtry
Pope Benedict XVI officially took the reins of the Roman Catholic church Sunday, receiving the symbols of his authority with a call for unity with other faiths and a pledge to govern the church through cooperation rather than papal mandate.
In a ceremony colored by centuries-old pageantry, Benedict accepted the fisherman's ring and seal -- the symbol of his continuity with St. Peter -- and a lamb's wool pallium -- a sash that signifies the pope's role as the shepherd of the faithful. Benedict then delivered a homily that aimed to recast these tokens of papal power as symbols of servitude, signaling a dramatic departure from his former role as the church's chief doctrinal authority.
"At this moment there is no need for me to present a program of governance," he told the 350,000-strong crowd, composed of dignitaries, religious leaders, royalty and rank-and-file faithful. "My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole church."
Benedict extended his call to Christian churches "not yet in full communion" with the pontiff and to the "Jewish people," whom he characterized as "brothers and sisters," united with the church through "a great shared spiritual heritage."
As Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Benedict was the chief author of a document that reasserted Catholicism's superiority over other faiths and claimed that other Christian churches derive salvific power through their links to Catholicism. On Sunday, Benedict showed no signs of excluding anyone from his reign.
"Like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike," Benedict said.
Benedict began the ceremony beneath the Basilica, in a space believed to mark the burial spot of Catholicism's first pope St Peter. He wore heavy golden vestments, embroidered with a seashell patterns and gripped a papal staff that once belonged to his predecessor, John Paul II. Upon appearing in the square, Benedict stood immobile before the cheering crowd. His eyes scanned the throng while his face remained expressionless.
With St. Peter's massive façade looming over his shoulder, Benedict waited as the fisherman's ring and the pallium were carried from the altar to his throne.
Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, the Chilean who proclaimed Benedict's name to the world from the basilica balcony last Tuesday, placed the pallium around the pontiff's neck. A simple stole made of white lambs wool, the pallium was embroidered with five crimson crosses that Estevez pinned with silver stakes to signify the nailing of Christ to the cross.
Benedict described the pallium, an accessory popular among Medieval popes, as a "yoke" that "does not alienate us, it purifies us -- even if this can be painful."
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State, brought a golden jewel box before the pontiff with its lid ajar, exposing the glittering fisherman's ring, emblazoned with a relief of Peter casting his fishing net -- the image traditionally used to seal apostolic letters. Benedict plucked it from the box and slid his right ring finger through it.
Twelve people representing Christ's disciples then lined up to kneel before Benedict and kiss his ring. Among the 12 chosen was a religious woman -- the first ever to participate in the ritual.
As Benedict read the Mass's homily, his eyes fixed to the text. Occasionally he invoked the name of John Paul, stirring applause from the crowd and memories of his predecessor's commanding skills as an orator. Once he cited John Paul's Mass of Investiture in 1978, when the late pontiff imported: "Do not be afraid!" The words stood in stark contrast to Benedict's soft-spoken message.
"I am not alone," Benedict declared, prompting loud cheers from the audience. "You see," he said, briefly lifting his eyes to the crowd in a brief departure from his text. "We see it. We hear it."
Benedict's call for unity also contrasted with the dire tones of the messages he had delivered as a cardinal -- most notably a Good Friday address that characterized the church as a sinking ship and the pre-conclave Pro Eligendo Mass, in which the former cardinal called on the church to defend itself against an ideology-based "dictatorship of relativism."
Sunday Benedict cast his condemnation of ideological influence in a more subtle light.
"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," he said. "God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the crucified, not by those who crucify."
"Pray for me," he said, "that I may not flee for fear of the wolves."
After the Mass concluded, Benedict mounted a white jeep and circled the square to the cheers of onlookers who held out their hands and flashed digital cameras. Beyond the square, an endless crowd packed the Via della Conciliazione, which was lined with jumbotrons for the occasion. Similar screens were positioned outside Vatican City walls to accommodate late arrivals.
City officials estimated that 100,000 pilgrims from the pope's native Germany attended the event.
Among them was Simone Steffan, 30, who traveled 12 hours by train from Munich to arrive in Rome Sunday morning and secure a spot in the square.
"I saw the top of his hat," she said, describing the pontiff's cruise on the popemobile. Steffan followed most of the Mass in a state of incomprehension, waiting for the pontiff to speak in his native tongue. Her wish was not fulfilled. "I just wanted one word in German," she said
Dignitaries from more than 131 countries also attended the Mass, including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Prince Albert II of Monaco and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; Metropolitan Chrisostomos, a top envoy for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Christian Orthodox; and a senior representative of the Russian Orthodox church, Metropolitan Kirill were present at the Mass and scheduled to meet with the freshman pontiff later in the day.
Following the Mass, dignitaries formed a line inside the Basilica to greet the newly installed pope. Schroeder gently bowed and shook hands with Benedict while Queen Sofia of Spain, wearing a lacy white dress and a flowing veil, knelt before the pontiff and planted a kiss on his newly minted ring.
Although Spain ranks among Europe's largest Catholic countries, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spain's prime minister, did not attend Benedict's investiture Mass. This week, the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament passed by an overwhelming majority a bill that allows gay couples to marry and adopt children.
As the former Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict condemned homosexuality as a premarital sexual relationship. He has not addressed the issue since becoming pope as Vatican officials have worked hard to present their pope in a softer hue. Saturday Benedict met with the media and thanked them for their hard work and the intensive coverage they have provide during this time of the death of a pope and the election of a new one.
Benedict "has been catapulted into this position," said Costantino Mirra, 52, who runs a sanitation company in southern Italy. "Before he had an embarrassing job," he said, referring to Benedict's days as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "Now he can reflect, taking his new job one day at a time."
While his ministry officially began today, Benedict has been in the public eye for months. As the dean of the College of Cardinals, he was designated to celebrate the only Mass of the year that drew more supporters than Sunday's ceremony: John Paul's funeral.
In a repeat performance of that day, Italian authorities employed elaborate security measures. Boats patrolled the Tiber River, a no-fly zone was imposed, anti-missile units were put in position as were NATO surveillance aircraft. The city of Rome reported that 10,000 police were deployed.
In a final invocation of the late pope, Benedict reformulated John Paul's 1978 call to not be afraid: "I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ!"
Stacy Meichtry is a freelance journalist based in Rome. He is reporting and writing for NCR during this period of papal transition.
Benedict addresses the media
By Stacy Meichtry
Media reports have called him ruthless. Cardinals have called him shy. Pope Benedict XVI went before an auditorium packed with reporters Saturday to speak for himself.
Benedict took the stage with his arms extended towards a warm applause and found his place on an oversized throne, letting the tips of his ruby red shoes peek out from beneath his white vestments.
As artificial ceiling light bathed his small frame, Benedict made a multilingual address that shifted languages from paragraph to paragraph. He opened with thanks to his aides in Italian and expressed gratitude to the media in English. Switching to French, he pledged to keep open the channels of communication in the tradition of John Paul II, and in his native German he warned his audience against unethical coverage.
"The need for clear references to ethical responsibility cannot be stressed enough in that sector," Benedict explained to hundreds of non-German-speaking reporters.
The new pope is slowly chipping away at the abstractions that have shrouded his public image so far. In the days since his election, Benedict has been the focus of unflattering descriptions from the media, focused on his dogmatic past. But he has also been the subject of unquestionable praise from his cardinal electors, who tell of a gentle soul hidden beneath the doctrinal surface. The contrast has left observers scratching their heads.
"I'm having difficulty understanding how a man who was once a watchdog can become a symbol of unity. It's like a doctrinal somersault," said Fr. Jacob Srampickal, a professor of social communications at the Gregorian Pontifical University.
Apart from Saturday's media address, Benedict has appeared in public twice, during separate visits to his former residence, just outside the Vatican City walls. Both visits drew intense crowds of onlookers and paparazzi to his doorstep, elbowing for unobstructed views of the pontiff. In both instances, the crowd would wait hours to watch Benedict come out, exchange momentary blessings with the throng and then disappear into a black Mercedes.
"He was very efficient," said Massimo Moranti, 38, who was present at the second visit.
On the eve of his Installation Mass -- an open-air ceremony that will be held in St. Peter's Square on Sunday before thousands -- the public has yet to form a clear impression of the soft-spoken German pontiff. The cardinals who praise him, on the other hand, had weeks to size up the former Cardinal Ratzinger during daily meetings that led up to the conclave.
"We could watch him work and listen and adapt to the discussions and questions that were raised," Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada told NCR. "You saw how masterful he was."
Ouellet was particularly praiseful of Benedict's performance at the Pro Eligendo Mass, during which the man who would be pope delivered a blunt homily that called on the church to defend itself against a "dictatorship of relativism."
That language has not reemerged since Benedict's election. An address to cardinals earlier in the week focused on improving ecumenical and inter-religious relations, a message that confounded a number of Benedict's detractors.
But many expect the pontiff to reassert himself in the coming days. Thursday the lower house of the Spanish parliament passed a bill that looks to legalize marriage between gay couples and allow them to adopt children -- an issue that the former Cardinal Ratzinger fiercely opposed.
"Spain is one of Europe's largest Catholic countries, so he's going to question that," Srampickal said. "But he has to be careful. People begin to lose faith, when they sense the church doesn't understand their struggles."
Stacy Meichtry is a freelance journalist based in Rome. He is reporting and writing for NCR during this period of papal transition.
New Pope Stresses Bonds at Installation
Apr 24, 3:29 PM (ET)
By BRIAN MURPHY
VATICAN CITY (AP) - In a broad message of outreach to formally begin his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI stressed his church's shared bonds with Jews and other Christians and promised followers Sunday he would not ignore their voices in leading the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics.
The pope's first major homily in St. Peter's Square also was noteworthy for what it left out: no mention of any current political issues or direct overtures toward Muslims although he paid respects "to believers and non-believers alike."
"My real program 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," the pontiff told a gallery of dignitaries, spiritual leaders and more than 350,000 pilgrims in his German-accented Italian.
The pope did not elaborate, but it suggested his papacy could study some pressing issues such as greater social activism and ways to reverse the decline of church attendance and vocations in the West. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - before his election as pope - he clearly opposed any fundamental changes such as ending bans on contraception or women priests.
The lack of a political edge to the homily also hinted Benedict may be more cautious than his predecessor, John Paul II, in using the Vatican's clout in international affairs.
The 78-year-old pontiff appeared tired and coughed several times into a handkerchief that he pulled from within a sleeve of his golden vestments. But he looked invigorated - smiling and waving - while being driven over the square's cobblestones on an open-air vehicle after the Mass to formally invest him with the papacy.
"At first I though he'd be stern and scolding," said Walter Bonner, who traveled from Italy's German-speaking Alpine region. "But he turns out to be more like a grandfather."
The inclusive tone of the homily - given after he received the Fisherman's Ring and other symbols of papal authority - added fodder to the deep reassessment of Benedict since his election Tuesday. He emerged from the conclave followed by his reputation as rigid and dogmatic after 24 years as the Vatican's chief overseer of doctrine. But he quickly displayed a style of openness he said was inspired by John Paul II - who he said is now "truly at home" among the saints.
One of Benedict's first acts was a personal greeting to the head of Rome's Jewish community. On Sunday, he noted "a great shared spiritual heritage" with Jews.
Benedict's effort to reach out to Jews carries an added dimension because of his membership in the Hitler Youth and later as a conscript into the German army during World War II. He said he was forced into both roles.
In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the pope's words shows his desire to continue John Paul's interfaith efforts and "forge even stronger ties between Israel and the Vatican and between Jews and Christians." Most Jewish leaders could not attend the Mass because it coincided with the weeklong Passover holiday.
The pope also extended a hand to all Christians, quoting Scriptures with images of a separated flock. "Let us do all we can to pursue the path toward unity," he said.
"Finally, like a wave gathering force," he added at another point in the 30-minute homily, "my thoughts go out to all men and women today, to believers and non-believers alike."
Here, too, the pope stepped gently onto sensitive ground. In 2000, while serving at the Vatican's powerful office that guides doctrine, he issued a document that angered other Christians and faiths by framing salvation in only Catholic terms.
But he went no further into church doctrine in his homily - unlike his pre-conclave comments that stressed obedience to absolute truths of morality and faith. Instead, he proclaimed humility at facing "this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity."
"Pray for me," he said several times.
The Mass - known as the Ceremony of Investiture - brought Benedict back to the steps of St. Peter's Basilica where he led the funeral rites for John Paul on April 8. Both events brought huge crowds and required sweeping security measures, including anti-missile batteries on alert, no-fly zones over central Rome and police boats patrolling the rain-swollen Tiber River.
The list of dignitaries included German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Queen Sofia of Spain, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother.
Among the religious leaders: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; Metropolitan Chrisostomos, a top envoy for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Christian Orthodox, and a senior representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kirill.
Benedict's brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, had a prominent seat on the basilica esplanade. It was "different" seeing his brother after his papal election.
"But soon we were back to normal," he said.
Clutching his pastoral staff, Benedict began the ceremony by walking into the area under the basilica where St. Peter is believed to be buried, paying homage to the first pope and blessing the tomb with incense as a choir chanted.
He emerged and looked out over the square. Pilgrims hoisted flags from every continent, including many from John Paul's native Poland. Fathers held their children aloft for a better look. The crush of followers presented snapshots of stunning variety: Nigerian women in flower-print dresses, Bavarian Germans in traditional felt hats, American seminarians in clerical garb and baseball caps.
"We don't know much about him, but he seems good," said Enrico Protti, an artisan from Asti, near the northern city of Turin. "If we can, we'll bring a flower also to (the tomb of) John Paul."
Two attendants carrying trays presented Benedict with the symbols of the papacy.
On his left hand, he slipped on the Fisherman's Ring, which is emblazoned with an image of Peter casting his fishing nets. Over his vestments, he draped the woolen pallium or shawl - a narrow shawl of white lamb and sheep's wool embroidered with five silk crosses that symbolize the pope's role as a shepherd taking care of his flock.
The pallium was pierced by three golden pins to symbolize the nails driven into the cross on which Christ was crucified, and the red color of the crosses is for Christ's blood.
Then 12 followers - symbolizing Christ's 12 disciples - lined up and pledged loyalty to Benedict, kneeling before him and kissing his golden ring. The first in the procession were three cardinals. The last were two young Catholics from Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The aura of John Paul was strong.
Some pilgrims carried portraits of the late pontiff. Even Benedict referred often to him often and echoed the words John Paul gave at his 1978 installation Mass: "Do not be afraid."
He also drew long sustained cheers - one of more than a dozen ovations - when he described the late pope as being accompanied by the saints. Many Catholics have urged for swift sainthood for John Paul, but Benedict did not mention possible canonization.
The two-hour ceremony closed with Benedict traveling through St. Peter's Square in a white, uncovered vehicle. He stood and greeting the crowd as an aide held down his robes. Despite the security worries, there was no protective covering around the pope.
At Installation Mass, New Pope Strikes a Tone of Openness
Published: April 24, 2005
By IAN FISHER
and LAURIE GOODSTEIN for the New York Times
VATICAN CITY, April 24 - Benedict XVI was installed on Sunday as the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church in a huge outdoor Mass on St. Peter's Square, proclaiming that the death of his popular predecessor, John Paul II, had shown the world that "the church is alive."
"This is the wonderful experience of these days," he said in a lengthy homily, which like all the events of these last three busy weeks since John Paul died, attracted enormous crowds as well as intense and worldwide media coverage.
"During those sad days of the pope's illness and death, it became wonderfully evident to us that the church is alive," he added. "And the church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way toward the future."
Under the eyes of 350,000 spectators and dignitaries from 131 nations, the Mass marked an important moment in the transformation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, a shy but firm and theologically conservative German used to working out of sight, into one of the world's most public figures. He accepted two symbols of the pope's authority: the pallium, a cloth of lamb's wool wrapped around his neck, and the gold ring of the fisherman, which he slipped on his right ring finger.
After the three-hour Mass, he toured St. Peter's Square in the back of a white popemobile with no protective glass: He had looked tired and serious during the Mass but broke into a broad smile as his car cut through screams, camera flashes and a sea of flags from the around the world.
"You know what was bellisimo? His smiling face," Simona Morello, a 19-year-old student, said soon after Benedict passed by and became the first pope she had ever seen.
In his half-hour homily, in which he sounded very much like the teacher of the theology he once was, he said he specifically chose not to use the installation Mass to lay out what future for the church he would create.
Instead, he struck a tone of openness, saying, "My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole church."
In doing so, the pope sent a pointed message to some Catholics who say they lamented the record he had compiled as Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 24 years. In that role, which he held until he assumed the papacy, he had disciplined errant theologians, discouraged clergy and laity calling for liberal reform in the church and issued strict interpretations of church doctrine that alienated some believers.
But in the two Masses he has publicly celebrated since becoming pope, he has cast himself as a unifier. "Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd!" he said today in his homily. "Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!"
His homily itself dwelled on the church's most obvious source of unity, which is its liturgy. In his previous role, he had often insisted on preserving traditional liturgical practices and not permitting experimentation. At the Mass today, the pope instructed the crowd at length on the meaning of the two liturgical symbols used in the inauguration Mass - the pallium and the fisherman's ring.
The lambs wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep, which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life, he said.
He used a pastoral tone, and some in the crowd responded positively.
"He said Christ is in us, in a simple manner," said Roxana Zurita, 44, a Panamanian who lives in Rome. "It was not a doctrinal manner, it was simple. We are learning that other part of him, the simple part."
At 78, he is the oldest pope to be elected in nearly 300 years, and he also referred to the burden of the job. "And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am," he said, "I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity."
The Mass marked the last major public event in the ancient pageantry that surrounds the death of a pope and the election of a new one, and this first change of popes in 26 years has preoccupied both Italy and the Catholic Church: Nearly three million pilgrims came to pay their respects to John Paul, then an unusually brief conclave of one day ended with white smoke signaling the election of John Paul's doctrinal watchdog, Cardinal Ratzinger.
The installation Mass did not attract the same overwhelming numbers as the viewing of John Paul's body or his funeral, but the crowds were still thick, if slightly restrained in enthusiasm for a pope many said they did not know well yet.
"The memory of the last pope is still so strong," said Tiziana Murace, 33, a union representative who traveled from southern Italy from the ceremony. "It takes time. It will take time to feel that Pope Ratzinger is my pope."
Pilgrims Cheer New Pope at Installation
Apr 24, 4:30 PM (ET)
By VANESSA GERA
VATICAN CITY (AP) - For Grazyna Klimowicz, the emotions were extreme - deep pain over the loss of John Paul II and joy that his faithful servant, Pope Benedict XVI, was chosen to guide the world's Roman Catholics.
The Polish tour guide was among some 400,000 people who packed St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets for Benedict's installation Mass Sunday, their emotions turning to a pontiff who is already winning hearts for his gentle manner and long service to his much-loved predecessor.
"There's pain on one side, and joy on the other side because all of the world has a new pope with a deep soul, a beautiful soul," said Klimowicz, 52, who led pilgrims to visit the tomb of Polish-born John Paul and to witness Benedict's installation.
"He loved our pope. So I think this papacy will be good and I hope it will be long."
The faithful began taking up spots before dawn on the cobblestones of St. Peter's Square. By the time the service began, they were craning their necks for a glimpse of the German-born pontiff in his golden vestments as he formally took charge of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
After the nearly three-hour Mass, people stood and waved as Benedict blessed the crowd while riding through the square in a white, open-topped jeep-like vehicle surrounded by security guards.
Those nearby reached out toward him and snapped pictures. Parents lifted children on their shoulders, others scrambled onto the square's fountains for a glimpse, and some chanted the pope's name in Italian - "Benedetto!" - and clapped rhythmically.
"He seems really nervous," muttered an elderly Italian man as Benedict opening his homily in a tentative voice, coughing at times.
But as Benedict went on, his voice grew firmer. And many said they liked what they heard.
"I am very favorably impressed by what he said," said Angelo Madonini, a 30-year-old Italian lawyer seeking refuge from the sun under the square's colonnades during the Mass.
"The pope said the church is alive, young, vital. He's showing that what you read in the newspapers about the church being dead isn't true."
Pilgrims waved flags from around the world - the black, gold and red of the pope's native Germany, and even more often the red-and-white Polish banner.
"We still remember John Paul and we love him," said Wojtek Lech, 24, an economics student from Rzeszow, Poland. "Everyone in Poland feels the same for the pope - our pope."
Groups from Benedict's home region of Bavaria showed up in traditional attire, the men in lederhosen and women in traditional dresses known as dirndls.
"It's beautiful to be here," said Veronica Vutz, 32, from Berchtesgaden, Germany, wearing a tight-fitting brown bodice and aproned green skirt. "We came here just for this."
Prelates in crimson caps and Swiss Guards in their gaily colored uniforms and red-plumed helmets formed the backdrop.
Many people bought postcards and other souvenirs of the new pope and the old pope as they trickled out of the square.
Outside the square, Benedict's nationality was acknowledged in a crude manner: Someone had drawn an Adolf Hitler-style mustache and a swastika armband on a poster of Benedict.
The pope has acknowledged being a member of Hitler Youth as a teenager and was drafted to serve in the German army. He says he was forced into participating.
Pope Softens Image As Austere Theologian
Apr 24, 1:20 PM (ET)
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has pushed the right buttons in his first days as pontiff, softening his image as an austere theologian, inviting the chief rabbi of Rome to his installation and promising to keep up his popular predecessor's meetings with Roman Catholic youth.
The 78-year German-born pope - known as the Vatican's hard-line defender of the faith - was formally installed Sunday. It is still not clear whether he intends to take major initiatives or serve more as a transitional figure after the 26-year papacy of John Paul II.
Those who know the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger say his decisions will not be made to please the masses.
"He has never sought popularity," Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who spent years at the Vatican before his transfer to Dublin, Ireland, told Italian state television. "This has left him free to pursue the truths as he sees them."
As head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for more than two decades, the new pope played a significant role in shaping Vatican policy under John Paul. Some clues to Benedict's papacy should be clear in the coming months when decisions are finally made on issues left pending during John Paul's long decline:
- The Vatican has been preparing to release a document, in the works for more than five years, on homosexuality and the priesthood. An earlier draft suggested that gays should not be ordained, but the latest draft had been expected to be more nuanced.
- A proposal to beatify World War II Pope Pius XII has been under study for years. Jewish groups have vocally opposed the idea of Pius being put on the path to sainthood, claiming he did not do enough to prevent the Holocaust. This may be a particularly sensitive issue for Benedict, who has acknowledged joining the Hitler Youth at age 14 and then served in the German military.
- A U.S. church law that gives bishops broader power to discipline sexually abusive priests has been temporarily extended beyond the March 1 deadline. Chicago Cardinal Francis George said the new pope indicated he will preserve the law.
Before he became pope, Benedict was deeply involved in the Vatican's response to the abuse crisis. He and several other cardinals had upset victims by suggesting that widespread American media coverage of abusive clergy was "a planned campaign" that overstated the problem.
However, at last month's Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in an apparent reference to the crisis, wrote a meditation denouncing "filth" in the church, "even among those ... in the priesthood."
Unlike popes who have come from the outside, Benedict is the ultimate Vatican insider who needs no guidance on how the bureaucracy works. He speedily reconfirmed all the top officials, with whom he has worked closely with through the years.
But since his election Tuesday in one of the quickest conclaves in recent history, an emerging image of a humble and welcoming pastor has surprised many - although friends say his reputation as a dour German was unfair.
Although he may lack his Polish predecessor's charisma, Benedict has seemed comfortable greeting and blessing the crowds that quickly form when he appears outside the Vatican walls. In an audience with the College of Cardinals on Friday, he was particularly solicitous with the elderly and ailing, quickly rising from his chair to embrace them. Others knelt and kissed his hand.
In his first address Wednesday, Benedict sketched the outlines of his papacy, suggesting continuity with John Paul.
He committed himself to an "an open and sincere dialogue" with other faiths and trying to reverse the decline in church attendance and vocations in the West.
He also appears interested in keeping up efforts to end the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with Orthodox churches, which broke with the Roman church over papal authority and disputes about the liturgy. One of the late pope's unfulfilled dreams was to visit Russia, the most populous Orthodox nation.
On Monday, Benedict plans to visit the Rome basilica built over the tomb of St. Paul, who helped bring Christianity to regions on both sides of the current Catholic-Orthodox divide.
Italy's Jewish community welcomed the invitation to chief Rome rabbi Riccardo di Segni to the pope's installation Mass on Sunday that was accompanied by a pledge to keep up the dialogue between Catholics and Jews.
The rabbi could not attend because Sunday was the first day of Passover, but he was pleased to be asked, said Riccardo Pacifici, spokesman for the Jewish community in Rome.
Benedict immediately accepted an invitation to attend the Church's World Youth Day event in Cologne, Germany, in mid-August, an event dear to John Paul and that also will give the new pope an occasion to be feted by his fellow Germans. There has been no word on other travel plans, although he was quickly invited by the church and government to John Paul's Poland.
Several cardinals have said the new pope realizes his papacy will not be a long one, but that's not necessarily an indication of the kind of mark Benedict intends to make.
"Age isn't important. There were some very short papacies which did great work," said Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil, citing Pope John XXIII, who served from 1958-63. John convened the Second Vatican Council, which enacted modernizing reforms that Benedict pledged he would continue to follow.
Pope Benedict Installed, Urges World to Find God
Apr 24, 12:45 PM (ET)
By Philip Pullella and Crispian Balmer
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict took charge of his Church at a majestic inauguration Sunday and set down a spiritual manifesto for his papacy with a plea for humanity to escape a desert of suffering and embrace God.
Three weeks after the death of John Paul, presidents and pilgrims again packed the cobbled expanse in front of St. Peter's Basilica to see the new Pontiff installed on the papal throne as the leader of 1.1 billion Roman Catholics.
Cloaked in shimmering golden vestments, Benedict told a 350,000-strong crowd that he was "a weak servant of God" and appealed for prayers to help him in the "enormous task that truly exceeds human capacity."
He again promised to continue John Paul's policy of reaching out to Jews and other faiths and pays his first visit outside the Vatican Monday to St. Paul Outside the Walls, a Rome basilica with a special place in the quest for Christian unity.
The thrust of his homily, however, was a call for the world to rediscover its spirituality and a plea for support in a task he said "truly exceeds all human capacity."
Applause echoed around the colonnaded square as flag-waving pilgrims interrupted his powerful sermon more than 40 times, chanting "Benedict, Benedict," at the end of the speech.
The Pontiff, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was the austere guardian of Catholic orthodoxy under John Paul, but on Sunday he looked to soften his image and deflect concerns over his past as a tough doctrinal enforcer.
"My real program 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," said the 78-year-old German to loud applause.
At the end of the 2-1/2 hour Mass, the Pope was driven around the square in a white, open-topped vehicle, smiling and waving as he passed through a sea of cheering pilgrims.
"I liked his homily a lot. He took up the previous pope's words. This should be a papacy of continuity," said Silvio Viccierhai, a 50-year old Italian.
Security was again tight, as it was for the funeral for John Paul. Rome shut its airspace, closed roads and had anti-aircraft missiles and a NATO plane guarding against attack.
Benedict, the oldest man to be elected Pope for three centuries, takes over the Church at a time of dwindling congregations and an aging base in Europe and stiff competition from evangelical sects for followers in the developing world.
In his first sermon as the 265th leader of the Church, delivered entirely in Italian, he focused on what he called a world of alienation, suffering and death that he said had become a spiritual wasteland.
Facing such woes, he said his Church was still very much alive, young and able to grow.
"There are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love," the Pope said.
"There is the desert of God's darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.
GOD'S AGENDA, NOT HIS
The Pope was elected in a secret conclave of the Church's 115 voting cardinals after just three rounds of voting last Tuesday. He is the 16th pontiff to take the name Benedict.
"My dear friends - at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more," he said.
"Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves."
Just before the Mass began, the Pope visited the tomb of the Church's first pope, St. Peter, who is buried in the crypt beneath the main altar of the vast basilica a short distance from where John Paul's remains were laid to rest on April 8.
The insignia of papal authority, the Fisherman's Ring and the pallium, a narrow stole of white wool, sat on St. Peter's tomb overnight and were presented to Benedict during Sunday's service, symbolizing his assumption of pontificate power.
Many in the square and surrounding streets, where crowds followed the Mass on large television screens, were the Pope's compatriots waving German and Bavarian flags.
"It's a great feeling to have German pope," said Martin Hackmann, a 40 year-old salesman from northern Germany who got to the square at 4.00 am to get a good seat for the Mass.
But many were disappointed that he said nothing in German.
"We didn't understand much. There was some Latin, and we could understand that because we do it in school, but that was all," said Julian Bruening, 13, from Hardup in northern Germany.
Fewer world leaders were at Sunday's Mass than at John Paul's funeral, which with 2,500 dignitaries resembled a summit of the world's powerful. But the attendance list was still long with some 140 official delegations present.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Horst Koehler headed the German delegation. The U.S. group was led by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush and a convert to Roman Catholicism.
Benedict's brother Georg, 81, who is a priest, was also present. (Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan, Rachel Sanderson and Jane Barrett)
New Pope Sets Store by Lost Traditions
Apr 24, 6:30 PM (ET)
By Paul Holmes
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict brings back another Church tradition on Monday with his first visit outside the Vatican to pay homage at the tomb of St. Paul the Apostle.
The pilgrimage to the 4th century Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, in the southern suburbs of Rome, will be the first time the new Pontiff has made an official foray outside the tiny Vatican City state since his election on April 19.
Such visits to the church, the largest in Rome after St. Peter's Basilica, were once a feature of papal installations but had fallen by the wayside in more recent times.
A Vatican statement said the visit would underscore the "inseparable link" with the Apostles Peter and Paul, the founders of the Roman Catholic Church.
St. Peter was the Church's first Pontiff and Benedict, the German former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, paid homage at his tomb in the crypt beneath the main altar inside St. Peter's before his inaugural Mass on Sunday.
That stop was a new feature of the rituals that mark the start of a new papacy but much of what Benedict has done in his early days as Pope has been to return to long-held traditions.
The shimmering gold vestments Benedict wore for his investiture on Sunday had once been worn by John Paul -- thus symbolizing continuity with his long-serving predecessor -- but he is already making his own mark on the papacy in subtle ways.
Since he appeared on the main balcony of St. Peter's last Tuesday to salute the crowds who had waited for two days for the white smoke that signals a Pope has been chosen, he has worn red slippers -- John Paul always wore brown leather shoes.
The narrow white wool stole, or pallium, that Benedict received as a symbol of his papal authority during Sunday's open-air service was another return to tradition.
And, in his first address as Pope last Wednesday -- a seven-page speech in Latin to the cardinals who elected him in their secret conclave -- he returned to the royal "We" of Popes as opposed to the singular "I" that John Paul adopted.
Benedict, a shy, retiring theological scholar, became known as an austere conservative during his more than two decades as the enforcer of orthodoxy at the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He has slowly grown more relaxed since his election, but has also signaled he is by no means the showman -- at least not yet -- that the late Polish Pontiff became from day one.
After Sunday's ceremony, Benedict toured the crowd in St. Peter's Square to wave and smile from an open-topped vehicle, but during the Mass he stuck to Latin for the liturgy and delivered his lengthy sermon entirely in Italian.
That disappointed some of the thousands of Germans in the packed square who had hoped that 'their' Pope would speak a few words in his native tongue, just as John Paul would switch into Polish -- or whatever other language would please the crowd.
"We didn't understand much. There was some Latin, and we could understand that because we do it in school, but that was all," said Julian Bruening, 13, from Hardup in northern Germany.
Some of the German pilgrims will have a chance to hear the Pope speak his own language on Monday at a special audience in the Vatican.
Mass Marks Pope's Installation in Germany
Apr 24, 11:06 AM (ET)
By MATT SURMAN
TRAUNSTEIN, Germany (AP) - Residents of this picturesque Bavarian town that was the childhood home of Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the new pontiff Sunday at a special Mass - while others watched from home as he formally took stewardship of the Roman Catholic Church.
Rita Sternad did both.
"I'm going right back home to watch TV," the 74-year-old said as she left the Mass at the historic St. Oswald's Church, which dates back to the 14th century. "And I sat watching TV all morning before I came to Mass."
More than 100 worshippers attended the ceremony, filling about half of the church.
The pope - formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - was born in 1927 in Marktl Am Inn, but his family settled in Traunstein, about 20 miles from the Austrian cultural center of Salzburg. They lived in an 18th-century farmhouse surrounded by a forest. It's a link that the pope has never forgotten, returning annually to visit, reflect and rest.
As a resident of his hometown, "you somehow have experienced everything with him," Sternad said.
Inside the church, the Rev. Sebastian Heindl, standing before the ornate gold altar - guarded by angels and the Virgin Mary - acknowledged the attention that Ratzinger's selection has brought to the town.
Traunstein is "linked with many people by TV and radio, and linked with the Pope. This is a hometown for him," he said.
Benedict, he added, is following in the footsteps of his predecessors and Jesus Christ, acting as a cornerstone of the church.
Nonetheless, reaction to the pope's installation was relatively subdued.
Sitting with his family at an outside cafe on the cobble-stoned square, Roland Reitmer was not impressed by the attention.
"It doesn't interest me. The church is just an organization," he said, adding that issues like abortion and birth control should be grappled with by individuals, not the church.
Text of Pope Benedict XVI's homily at installation Mass
By Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Here is the Vatican text of Pope Benedict XVI's Italian-language homily during his installation Mass in St. Peter's Square April 24.
My dear brother bishops and priests,
Distinguished authorities and members of the diplomatic corps,
Dear brothers and sisters,
During these days of great intensity, we have chanted the litany of the saints on three different occasions: at the funeral of our Holy Father John Paul II; as the cardinals entered the conclave; and again today, when we sang it with the response: "Tu illum adiuva" -- sustain the new successor of St. Peter. On each occasion, in a particular way, I found great consolation in listening to this prayerful chant. How alone we all felt after the passing of John Paul II -- the pope who for over 26 years had been our shepherd and guide on our journey through life. He crossed the threshold of the next life, entering into the mystery of God. But he did not take this step alone. Those who believe are never alone -- neither in life nor in death. At that moment, we could call upon the saints from every age -- his friends, his brothers and sisters in the faith -- knowing that they would form a living procession to accompany him into the next world, into the glory of God. We knew that his arrival was awaited. Now we know that he is among his own and is truly at home.
We were also consoled as we made our solemn entrance into the conclave, to elect the one whom the Lord had chosen. How would we be able to discern his name? How could 115 bishops, from every culture and every country, discover the one on whom the Lord wished to confer the mission of binding and loosing? Once again, we knew that we were not alone, we knew that we were surrounded, led and guided by the friends of God.
And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity. How can I do this? How will I be able to do it? All of you, my dear friends, have just invoked the entire host of saints, represented by some of the great names in the history of God's dealings with mankind. In this way, I, too, can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me. Indeed, the communion of saints consists not only of the great men and women who went before us and whose names we know. All of us belong to the communion of saints, we who have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we who draw life from the gift of Christ's body and blood, through which he transforms us and makes us like himself.
Yes, the church is alive -- this is the wonderful experience of these days. During those sad days of the pope's illness and death, it became wonderfully evident to us that the church is alive. And the church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way toward the future. The church is alive and we are seeing it: We are experiencing the joy that the risen Lord promised his followers. The church is alive -- she is alive because Christ is alive, because he is truly risen. In the suffering that we saw on the holy father's face in those days of Easter, we contemplated the mystery of Christ's passion, and we touched his wounds. But throughout these days we have also been able, in a profound sense, to touch the Risen One. We have been able to experience the joy that he promised, after a brief period of darkness, as the fruit of his Resurrection.
The church is alive -- with these words, I greet with great joy and gratitude all of you gathered here, my venerable brother cardinals and bishops, my dear priests, deacons, church workers, catechists. I greet you, men and women religious, witnesses of the transfiguring presence of God. I greet you, members of the lay faithful, immersed in the great task of building up the kingdom of God which spreads throughout the world, in every area of life. With great affection I also greet all those who have been reborn in the sacrament of baptism but are not yet in full communion with us; and you, my brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, to whom we are joined by a great shared spiritual heritage, one rooted in God's irrevocable promises. Finally, like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and nonbelievers alike.
Dear friends! At this moment there is no need for me to present a program of governance. I was able to give an indication of what I see as my task in my message of Wednesday, April 20, and there will be other opportunities to do so. My real program 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. Instead of putting forward a program, I should simply like to comment on the two liturgical symbols which represent the inauguration of the Petrine ministry; both these symbols, moreover, reflect clearly what we heard proclaimed in today's readings.
The first symbol is the pallium, woven in pure wool, which will be placed on my shoulders. This ancient sign, which the bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the bishop of this city, the servant of the servants of God, takes upon his shoulders. God's yoke is God's will, which we accept. And this will does not weigh down on us, oppressing us and taking away our freedom. To know what God wants, to know where the path of life is found -- this was Israel's joy, this was her great privilege. It is also our joy: God's will does not alienate us, it purifies us -- even if this can be painful -- and so it leads us to ourselves. In this way, we serve not only him, but the salvation of the whole world, of all history. The symbolism of the pallium is even more concrete: the lamb's wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life. For the Fathers of the Church, the parable of the lost sheep, which the shepherd seeks in the desert, was an image of the mystery of Christ and the church. The human race -- every one of us -- is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. The Son of God will not let this happen; he cannot abandon humanity in so wretched a condition. He leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the cross. He takes it upon his shoulders and carries our humanity; he carries us all -- he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
What the pallium indicates first and foremost is that we are all carried by Christ. But at the same time it invites us to carry one another. Hence the pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd's mission, of which the second reading and the Gospel speak. The pastor must be inspired by Christ's holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God's darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth's treasures no longer serve to build God's garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. The church as a whole and all her pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, toward the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the one who gives us life, and life in abundance.
The symbol of the lamb also has a deeper meaning. In the ancient Near East, it was customary for kings to style themselves shepherds of their people. This was an image of their power, a cynical image: to them their subjects were like sheep, which the shepherd could dispose of as he wished. When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, himself became a lamb, he stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed. This is how he reveals himself to be the true shepherd: "I am the Good Shepherd ... I lay down my life for the sheep," Jesus says of himself (Jn 10:14f). It is not power, but love that redeems us. This is God's sign: he himself is love. 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. We suffer on account of God's patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.
One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. "Feed my sheep," says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God's truth, of God's word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament. My dear friends -- at this moment I can only say: Pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more -- in other words, you, the holy church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.
The second symbol used in today's liturgy to express the inauguration of the Petrine ministry is the presentation of the fisherman's ring. Peter's call to be a shepherd, which we heard in the Gospel, comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish: After a night in which the disciples had let down their nets without success, they see the risen Lord on the shore. He tells them to let down their nets once more, and the nets become so full that they can hardly pull them in; 153 large fish: "and although there were so many, the net was not torn" (Jn 21:11). This account, coming at the end of Jesus' earthly journey with his disciples, corresponds to an account found at the beginning: There too, the disciples had caught nothing the entire night; there too, Jesus had invited Simon once more to put out into the deep. And Simon, who was not yet called Peter, gave the wonderful reply: "Master, at your word I will let down the nets." And then came the conferral of his mission: "Do not be afraid. Henceforth you will be catching men" (Lk 5:1-11).
Today, too, the church and the successors of the apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel -- to God, to Christ, to true life. The fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God's light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. It is really so: The purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world.
Here I want to add something: Both the image of the shepherd and that of the fisherman issue an explicit call to unity. "I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd" (Jn 10:16); these are the words of Jesus at the end of his discourse on the Good Shepherd. And the account of the 153 large fish ends with the joyful statement: "Although there were so many, the net was not torn" (Jn 21:11). Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn. But no -- we must not be sad. Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path toward the unity you have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with him: Yes, Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!
At this point, my mind goes back to Oct. 22, 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in St. Peter's Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!" The pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, he would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But he would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society. The pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that he might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ -- and you will find true life. Amen.