Pope Benedict lays out vision for pontificate

.- 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.”

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