Vatican City, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - With an audible sense of the weighty path, which lies ahead of him, Pope Benedict XVI delivered his first homily to the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel today, laying out what may be seen as a vision for his pontificate.
Pope Benedict called on the cardinals to “sustain [him] with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration.”
Continuing on the much-speculated issue of collegiality, he asked his “brothers in the episcopacy to be close to me in prayer and counsel so that I may truly be the 'Servus servorum Dei' (Servant of the servants of God). As Peter and the other Apostles were, through the will of the Lord, one apostolic college, in the same way the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, successors of the Apostles - and the Council forcefully repeated this - must be closely united among themselves.”
“This collegial communion,” he said, “even in the diversity of roles and functions of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, is at the service of the Church and the unity of faith, from which depend in a notable measure the effectiveness of the evangelizing action of the contemporary world.”
He affirmed that he would continue the path of his “venerated predecessors…concerned solely with proclaiming to the world the living presence of Christ.”
Like Pope John Paul II before him, Pope Benedict promised to “pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the millennia-old tradition of the Church.”
The new pope also said he “assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty.”
He added that, “expressions of good feelings are not enough,” and that, “Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.”
The Holy Father affirmed that, “he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities,” promising a “sincere and open dialogue” with all those seeking answers to the fundamental questions of life.
In a world he called “wracked by fear and uncertainty, questions itself about the future,” the Pope said that he “knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ.”
At the conclusion of his homily, Pope Benedict invoked from God, “unity and peace for the human family and [declared] the willingness of all Catholics to cooperate for true social development, one that respects the dignity of all human beings.”
Vatican City, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - In his first pontifical homily, delivered earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI noted the significance of his pontificate starting “as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist.”
He called it a “providential coincidence”, and “an element that must mark the ministry to which [he has] been called.”
“The Eucharist,” he said, “the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me.”
Setting what will likely be a major theme, the Pope said that, “In this year…the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place on the theme "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.”
Pope Benedict asked the faithful to “intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.”
In particular, he called on priests, whose lives “must have in a special way a 'Eucharistic form',” as John Paul II wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday.
“The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass,” he said, “the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.”
"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist,” he added, “Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle.”
Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - As the world looks to Pope Benedict XVI to fill the giant shoes of Pope John Paul II, leaders from around the world—many of whom recently returned home from John Paul II’s funeral—are expressing optimism for the Church and its new shepherd.
President Bush yesterday, speaking with his wife Laura at his side, called the new pope, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “a man of great wisdom and knowledge…a man who serves the Lord.”
He recalled Cardinal Ratzinger’s homily at Pope John Paul II’s funeral which, he said, touched our hearts and the hearts of millions.”
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said of the new native German pope, “this is a great honor for Germany.”
He added that, “In Pope Benedict XVI, a Pope has been chosen who knows the world Church like no one else. He is a great, world-renowned theologian. Pope Benedict XVI is a worthy successor to Pope John Paul II.”
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan noted that, “His Holiness brings a wealth of experience to this exalted office. The United Nations and the Holy See share a strong commitment to peace, social justice, human dignity, religious freedom and mutual respect among the world's religions.”
“The secretary-general”, he said, “looks forward to the contributions His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will make in strengthening those values.”
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said: “I certainly express the feelings of all Italians, and am particularly delighted, when I present Your Holiness with the warm and respectful homage of the Italian government.”
Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki noted that “Pope Benedict XVI assumes leadership at a critical time in which the world's collective wisdom and leadership including that of the religious community is most important to face up to challenges of deepening poverty and under-development afflicting many people of the world.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that, “We congratulate his Holiness and wish him every success. We hope the strong and historic relations between Palestine and the Vatican will be as strong as ever and that the Vatican's support for a just peace in the Holy Land will continue.”
Likewise, the U.K.’s Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks said that We hope that he will continue along the path of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in working to enhance relations with the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
Denver, Colo., Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles Chaput, leader of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Denver is welcoming Pope Benedict XVI, formerly, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, with open arms.
In a statement released just hours after Pope Benedict took his place as pontiff on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the archbishop said that, “The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI is a tremendous moment for the Church and a great affirmation of the legacy of Pope John Paul II.”
Amid allegations of being too strict with his enforcement of Church teaching in his role as prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Chaput said that “People with direct experience of Cardinal Ratzinger invariably encountered a man of character, kindness, refined intelligence, humility, simplicity and grace; a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ and a faithful son of the Second Vatican Council where he served as a theologian.”
Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope yesterday after just three rounds of conclave voting—one of the shortest elections in recent history.
Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their great joy at the election of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
“We send him our congratulations and our prayers as he begins his ministry as bishop of Rome and the universal pastor of the Catholic Church,” said USCCB president Bishop William Skylstad in a statement.
“As a theologian, a bishop, and as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the new Pope has the kind of experience in Church leadership which commended him to his fellow cardinals as a worthy successor to St. Peter and as Christ’s Vicar here on earth,” he said.
Bishop Skylstad stated that Pope Benedict XVI is familiar with the Church in the U.S.
“I have had the opportunity to visit the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and to meet with Cardinal Ratzinger on behalf of the bishops’ conference on various issues,” said the bishop.
“I have always found him to be very open and pastoral, with a listening ear, especially sensitive to the situation of the Church in this country.”
And his decades-long experience at the Vatican has put him in contact with the Church in many other countries throughout the world, he added.
The bishop described the new Pope as “a man of great humility and dedication to the discipleship of Christ, as well as a man of great intelligence.”
“I know that he will be a faithful shepherd, after the example of the Good Shepherd Himself, and I offer him on behalf of the bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity of the United States our support, fidelity, and love,” Bishop Skylstad said.
Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Numerous pro-life groups are enthusiastic about the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the next Pope, praising his track record as a defender of the dignity of human life at all its stages, from conception to natural death.
"We thankfully recognize the staunch pro-life commitment of Cardinal Ratzinger during the whole of his episcopacy and we are confident that as Pope Benedict XVI, he will continue his strong defense of the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life,” said Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International.
Fr. Euteneuer said he hopes that the words of Pope John Paul II in Christifideles laici on the right to life will guide the new Pope “in this all-important task.”
“We look forward to working together with and under the leadership of the new Pope to advance the Culture of Life," said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
"For decades, he has been a strong voice in favor of life, clearly articulating the Church's teachings,” said Fr. Pavone, referring to the Pope’s tenure as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"Joseph Ratzinger has always been a great champion of the Culture of Life," commented Pro-Life Action League’s national director Joe Scheidler.
"As Pope Benedict XIV, he is sure to carry on the work of Pope John Paul II in defending the value of life, especially those who are most vulnerable: the unborn, aged and disabled," he continued.
Scheidler also noted that Cardinal Ratzinger strongly supported American bishops who had the courage to stand up to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
Judie Brown, president of American Life League, said her organization embraces Pope Benedict XVI as the 265th leader of the Catholic Church.
The American Life League is “confident” that Pope Benedict XVI will follow in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II and teach about the value and dignity of life “with courage.”
“We trust that his faith, actions and words will challenge the human family to create a culture of life and to embrace Christ's love for all of His children. May God bless Pope Benedict XVI," she said.
, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Contrary to earlier media reports, the name taken by the new Pope, Benedict XVI, was not inspired by the former Pope by that name but by St. Benedict, the co-patron of Europe and founder of western monasticism, suggests Fr. Joseph Fession.
St. Benedict and the monastic movement was key in the growth of Christianity in Europe in the sixth century.
Interpreting the name as a reference to St. Benedict would indicate defending and promoting the faith in Europe, where Christianity has steadily declined in the last century, would be central to the new Pope’s mission, Culture of Life Foundation board member Fr. Joseph Fessio told CNN.
The name, however, has also been interpreted as a tribute to Pope Benedict XV, who led the Church from 1914 to 1922, and promulgated the first Code of Canon Law. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger helped produce the second edition of the Code of Canon Law.
Given Pope Benedict XV’s respect among Turkish Muslims for his work with refugees during World War I, some have said that perhaps Pope Benedict XVI means to pursue peaceful relations with Muslim countries.
Nashville, Tenn., Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Students at Pope John Paul II Catholic High School in Hendersonville, Tenn., said they hope the new Pope will maintain and protect the traditions and teachings of the Church.
"I just really want to see a strong leader for the Church and just someone who can stay moral and keep the tradition and the teachings of the Church," said student Jenna Voor.
The students paused from their studies to watch newly elected Pope Benedict XVI address the faithful and give his first blessing.
Only two weeks ago, a group of students, parents and faculty were at the Vatican on a school trip and were present to receive Pope John Paul II’s last public blessings in St. Peter’s Square.
Fr. John Sappenfield shared the moment of the announcement of the new Pope with his students. He said he continued to monitor the television during his class, called Church History and the Sacraments.
"I happened to check the TV and it looked like smoke was coming out and I told the kids to turn the monitor up,” he said. "We lived through a great moment in history. Something that many of these kids will never forget."
Rome, Italy, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - “With excitement the city of Rome salutes its Bishop,” the mayor of the Italian capital, Walter Veltroni, said on Tuesday, adding that the faithful “gathered in St. Peter’s Square gave him their first affectionate homage.”
In a statement “in the name of all citizens,” Veltroni sent “special congratulations to Benedict XVI, the Pontiff who starting today assumes the weight of guiding the universal Church from our city.”
“We are sure that in the wake of the extraordinary human experience of Karol Wojytla, Pope Benedict will know how to show that he is also a great friend of the Romans,” the statement read.
The mayor of Rome recalled the work carried out by the new Pontiff as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He added the Benedict XVI “knows Rome well” and that Romans “have learned to get to know him.”
Rome, Italy, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Hundreds of people filled the main square of the small German town of Marktl am Inn, where Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was born 78 years ago. The Pontiff’s relatives joined in the local celebrations.
The Bavarian town of only 2,800 people was dotted with hundreds of white and yellow flags of the Vatican and pictures of the new Pope. According to Father Georg Ratzinger, the Pope’s brother, his election left him astonished. “He sat in front of the television and was speechless,” his housekeep, Agnes Heindl, told the DPA news agency.
Before his election, Cardinal Ratzinger saw his 81 year-old brother Georg three or four times a year. The two brothers attended the seminary of Traunstein and studied theology together and were ordained priests on June 29, 1951, in Freising.
While Joseph became a teacher, Georg studied music and directed the Children’s Choir of Ratisbona, which he brought to Rome in 1965 to perform for the two thousand bishops gathered for the Second Vatican Council. There he saw his brother again, who was working as a peritus, or theological advisor, during the Council.
Local residents of the Pope’s hometown said he has the qualities to lead the Catholic Church. “He will be an ideal Pope,” said 76 year-old Josef Winichner, a friend of the cardinal.
Honorary mayor Uwe Gschwendtner announced that “a great party in the town square will be celebrated to honor our new Pope.”
Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Various U.S. bishops have shared their reactions to the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI and have indicated that his election signals continuity in the Church's course.
"It says to me that the church is facing a continuity in how it goes about applying the gospel message to our day today," said Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pitstsburgh, who knows the new Pope well, having served on a number of committees with the then Cardinal.
Even though the new Pope's "style and personality" are different from that of his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Bishop Wuerl says that the "substance" of their teaching will be the same and that Catholics should not expect any major changes.
Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden, who said he expected the new pope to be younger and non-european, also pointed to the message of continuity that the election of Benedict XVI signals adding that by electing Ratzinger the Church is reaching out to Europe, where the Church is "not in good shape."
Bishop Robert Morlino of the diocese of Madison said that he was "thrilled" at the news of Benedict XVI´s election to the papacy, suggesting that the new Holy Father will be "a loving Pope."
"I would say he's a humble man in the sense he's very unassuming," commented Brownsville Bishop Raymundo Pena, "if you see him down the street and don't know who he is, you would never think he's a man with a major role in the church."
Commenting on the German Pope's choice of name he said, "His predecessor with the name Benedict XV was a great unifier, a great promoter of unity, a great healer of wounds and maybe he tends to take that type of a role."
Lima, Peru, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Latin America is celebrating with joy the election of the new Pope, Benedict XVI. From Mexico to Chile millions followed the first moments of the new Pontiff, who was chosen on the second day of the Conclave.
“I imagined him to be a man with a strong character, but he is not like that. He is rather humble and simple. He is a good man and has a beautiful human side that we will be discovering little by little,” said Auxiliary Bishop Jose Trinidad Gonzalez Rodriguez of Guadalajara, Mexico, who opened his residence to the Pope during a visit in 1996 when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Monsignor Agustin Rivero, rector of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico, noted that “in every Mass we will pray and give thanks for the new Vicar of God.”
In Venezuela, Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardoza of Merida and President of the Bishops Conference, said Benedict XVI is “a very simple man with enormous experience regarding the problems of the Church.”
In Lima, where church bells rang out upon the announcement of the election, Bishop Hugo Garaycoa Hawkins of Tacna-Monquegua and President of the Peruvian Bishops Conference, said the Holy Father will have a different style than John Paul II. “I think that each one has a different way of leading the Catholic Church, each Pope has his own style, and we cannot stereotype everything,” he stated.
Father Jorge Oesterheld, spokesman for the Bishops Conference of Argentina, said, “The election is very positive, a new Pope always means new possibilities and new times. He will surely surprise many because he is a man of great capabilities and enormous knowledge of the Roman curia.”
In Montevideo, the President of the Uruguayan Bishops Conference, Bishop Pablo Galimberti, said the Catholic Church contemplates his election “with serene confidence.” He noted the new Pope’s dedication to the struggle for human values and “his democratic and pluralist vision.”
Church bells in the historic downtown of Quito also rang out upon the election of Benedict XVI. “The election of the new Pope is a best response to the needs of the Church at this time,” said the President of the Bishops Conference of Ecuador, Bishop Nestor Herrera Heredia of Machala.
“I think he will be a blessing for the Church in Bolivia and for the universal Church, in the sense that Benedict XVI will be the pastor of the people of God chosen by Jesus Christ for his Church and for today’s world which he loves so much,” said Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto and secretary of the Bolivian Bishops Conference. “The new Pope, who has a profound knowledge of Latin America and the Spanish language, will help us to continue being the continent of hope,” said the President of the Bishops Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua.
The Apostolic Nuncio in Chile, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, said he was pleased with the election of Benedict XVI and noted that Cardinal Ratzinger “is a Pope very capable and prepared given to us by God.” He noted the new Pontiff was very prepared “for the great mission” of being the servant of God in the world.
Vatican City, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, formerly, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered his first homily at a Mass in the Sistine Chapel with the gathered College of Cardinals.
In it, he expressed his great affection for the late Pope John Paul II and noted his profound influence on the modern Church.
“It seems”, he said, “I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!'”
He said that John Paul left “us a Church that is more courageous, freer, younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future.”
Both Ratzinger and then Karol Wojtyla were key architects of the Second Vatican Council. In this vein, Pope Benedict noted that, “With the Great Jubilee the Church was introduced into the new millennium carrying in her hands the Gospel, applied to the world through the authoritative re-reading of Vatican Council II.”
“Pope John Paul II”, he said, “justly indicated the Council as a 'compass' with which to orient ourselves in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Also in his spiritual testament he noted: ' I am convinced that for a very long time the new generations will draw upon the riches that this council of the 20th century gave us'.”
He added that, “In the hour of death, conformed to his Master and Lord, John Paul II crowned his long and fruitful pontificate, confirming the Christian people in faith, gathering them around him and making the entire human family feel more united.”
With some trepidation, the new pope noted that he steps into the shoes of John Paul and the Apostle Peter, the first pope, before him.
Noting the “sense of inadequacy” within him in his new role, Pope Benedict XVI expressed with confidence his “profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - does not abandon His flock, but leads it throughout time, under the guidance of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.”
> Read the whole homily at:
Vatican City, Apr 20, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, after celebrating his first Mass as a Pope, Benedict XVI left the Vatican and went to visit the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith´s quarters, that he led for 24 years, where in a cordial encounter he greeted his collaborators in the dicastery.
When the car, whose license plate reads SCV1, arrived at the office, it was greeted by a large group of people who received him with applause and acclamations of “Viva il Papa".
On his first day as Pope, Benedict XVI and the cardinals who were gathered together posed for a photograph. He entered the papal apartment at the Apostolic Palace, which until that moment had been sealed off since the death of John Paul II. Currently it is not known when he will take residence at the apartment, preferring for the time being to stay at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where today he lunched with some collaborators from the Roman Curia. In the afternoon, he proceeded to his former apartment.
As has been announced, this Sunday April 24th at 10 am Rome time, Benedict XVI will preside the Solemn Eucharist to inaugurate his Pontificate. On Monday, April 25th, in the morning, he will receive the official delegations that attended the previous day’s ceremony.