.- Gathered with more than 60,000 pilgrims in Saint Peters square today, Pope Benedict celebrated the one year anniversary of being elected successor of Peter, and asked the faithful to “continue to sustain me and to pray to God to allow me to be a meek and steady pastor of his Church.”
The pontiff vividly recalled the day, one year ago, in which “the conclave ofcardinals decided to choose my poor person to succeed the lamented and loved great Pope John Paul II”, something he called “absolutely unexpected and surprising for me.”
“I recall with emotion the first impression I had as I looked down from the central balcony of the basilica, of pilgrims gathered in this very square; it has stayed in my mind and heart,” he continued.
Pope Benedict then directly addressed those present saying, “The support of God and the Saints cannot be substituted by anything, and your closeness, dear friends, comforts me, you who never cease to offer me the gift of your indulgence and your love.”
“I thank from my heart all those are by my side in various ways,” he said, emotionally, “from near and also from far, spiritually, with their affection and their prayers: to each of you, I ask that you continue to sustain meand to pray to God to allow me to be a meek and steady pastor of his Church.”
Benedict XVI chose to place today’s festive feeling in the context of Easter. He reminded the faithful of the first moments the Risen Lord spent with the women and the apostles. The Gospel message, “the nucleus of which is the Easter mystery”, was spread “with courage” to the ends of the earth, by them and their successors.
And still today, he added, “each Christian is called to proclaim the Gospel”. Particularly addressing young people who were present, he said, “Christ exhorts and invites you too to be his witnesses,” and asked that “the Virgin Mary help us understand this great mystery of love that changes hearts and allows us to enjoy the joy of Easter.”
Following the general audience, Benedict XVI returned to Castelgandolfo, where he will stay until Friday.