.- Pope Benedict XVI met this morning with those cardinals still in Rome following Mondayâs conclave. He expressed to them what he described as a mixture of gratitude and unworthiness for the task ahead of him as 265th Pope. He said that "to the intense emotions I experienced on the occasion of the death of my venerated predecessor John Paul II and then during the conclave, especially its outcome, can be added an intimate desire for silence and two complementary feelings: a deep and heartfelt gratitude and a sense of human impotence in the face of the exalted task that awaits me."
The new Pope told them of his âneed to give thanks to God Who, despite my human frailty, elected me as Successor to the Apostle Peter and entrusted me with the task of supporting and guiding the Church, that in the world she may become a sacrament of unity for the entire human race."
Likewise, he emphasized how "truly emotional" his first appearance in St Peter's Square two days ago, had been.
Noting the tremendous welcome he received stepping onto the balcony to greet the faithful for the first time Pope Benedict said, "May my most heartfelt thanks reach everyone: bishops, priests, male and female religious, young and old alike, for their spiritual solidarity."
The Pope also thanked members of the College of Cardinals, especially Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano and the camerlengo, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, for "the active collaboration they gave to running the Church during the period of vacant see.â
âWith special affection,â he said, âI would like to greet those cardinals who, for reasons of age or ill health, did not participate in the conclave."
The new spiritual shepherd for 1 billion Catholics also extended his personal thanks to the cardinals "for the trust you have placed in me by electing me as bishop of Rome and pastor of the Universal Church.â
âIt was an act of faithâ, he said, âthat constitutes an encouragement to undertake this new mission with greater serenity, because I am convinced that I can count on both the indispensable help of God and your generous collaboration. I pray that your support for me may never fail!"
Pope Benedict called to mind his predecessors, Blessed John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and especially John Paul II, "whose witness over the last days supported us more than ever, and whose ever-living presence we continue to feel."
He added that, "The light and the strength of the Risen Christ radiated in the Church by that kind of 'last Mass' that (John Paul II) celebrated in his agony, culminating in the 'Amen' of a life entirely offered, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the salvation of the world."
"For me,â he concluded, âyour spiritual closeness, your enlightened counsel and your effective cooperation will be a gift for which I will be ever grateful and a stimulus to carry out the mandate entrusted to me with total faithfulness and dedication."