VATICAN CITY, APR 22, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received the cardinals currently in Rome, telling them 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."
"In the first place," he affirmed, "I feel the need 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."
Benedict XVI emphasized how "truly emotional" the first meeting with the faithful two days ago in St Peter's Square had been. "May my most heartfelt thanks reach everyone: bishops, priests, male and female religious, young and old alike, for their spiritual solidarity."
The Pope thanked all 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. With special affection, I would like to greet those cardinals who, for reasons of age or ill health, did not participate in the conclave."
The Pope 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. It was an act of faith that 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!"
The Holy Father recalled his predecessors, Blessed John XXIII, Servants of God Paul VI and 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 went on: "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, your 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."
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