.- Yesterday morning, a visibly joyful Pope Benedict XVI met with thousands of his German countrymen telling them that although he is now the Bishop of Rome, he would always be “a Bavarian” at heart. The Holy Father was joined in the Paul VI Hall by his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, along with a throng of German seminarians, priests, religious, and lay faithful shouting, "Viva il Papa! Long Live the Pope."
The new Pope asked the group to forgive him for being late, noting that while punctuality was a hallmark of Germans, he had lived in Italy for 23 years and had perhaps "become Italianized." Nevertheless, he highlighted in his speech his own origins and the ties that have linked Bavaria and Rome over the centuries.
Speaking of the conclave that elected him as the 264th Successor to Peter, Pope Benedict said that, "Without violating the oath of secrecy, I never thought I would be elected, nor did I do anything to promote this."
He said that when it became clear that he would be the new Pope he recalled a letter from a cardinal who reminded him that the theme of his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul II came from Jesus’ call to His disciples: "Follow me."
He had added in the homily, "When the Lord calls, we must answer."
He told the group that, "The ways of the Lord are not easy, but we are not made for an easy life and therefore I could only say 'yes'."
Pope Benedict echoed the words of his April 24 Inauguration Mass, saying that the Church "is not old but young." He told the excited crowd that he would indeed be in Cologne, Germany with young people for August’s World Youth Day.
In conclusion, the Pope implored his fellow Germans to walk together with him, to pray for him and to have faith in him.