Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 2, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI begins his ministry
Installation Mass revised
By CINDY WOODEN
Catholic News Service
In a liturgy rich with symbols and promises, Pope Benedict XVI formally began his ministry as head of the universal Church, and Catholics from around the world pledged their love and obedience to him.
The morning of April 24, Pope Benedict, elected April 19, walked down to the tomb of the martyred St. Peter in the Vatican basilica to pay homage to the first bishop of Rome.
Then, with some 150 cardinals, he processed into a sun-bathed St. Peter's Square to begin the Mass and receive the main symbols of his office: the fisherman's ring and the pallium.
"At this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity," Pope Benedict said in his homily.
The 78-year-old pope said he would rely on the prayers of all Catholics and the grace of God. "I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone."
'Rescue the lost'
The new pope said his inaugural Mass was not the moment to present "a program of governance," but rather a time to promise to try be a good shepherd to Christ's flock, to rescue those who are lost, to help the poor and to build unity among all believers in Christ.
An estimated 350,000 people attended the Mass, including delegations from more than 130 countries and from dozens of Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches. The crowd was dotted by faithful waving flags, especially German flags.
Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, led the five-member Canadian delegation.
Israel was represented by its ambassador to the Vatican, although the inauguration took place on the first full day of the weeklong Passover observance. Sixteen Orthodox churches sent representatives even though April 24 was Palm Sunday on the Julian calendar most of them follow.
Pallium and ring
Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez placed the pallium, a long woolen stole, around the neck of Pope Benedict.
Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, handed Pope Benedict the fisherman's ring.
In his homily, the pope said, "One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves."
The new pope asked for the prayers of the entire Church that he would grow in his love for the Lord and for the members of the Church and prayers that he would be strong in the face of those who threaten the Church.
His homily was repeatedly interrupted by applause, and Pope Benedict received a long ovation when he finished.
After he received the symbols of his office, Pope Benedict received the act of obedience of his new flock, symbolized by 12 people from eight countries.
Msgr. Crispino Valenziano, a consultant to the office of papal liturgical ceremonies, said the revised Rites for the Beginning of a Pontificate represent the first systematic and formal reworking of the rites since the Second Vatican Council.
Developed during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, the changes were kept as drafts until Pope Benedict approved them the day after his April 19 election.
Pope Paul VI began his pontificate with the traditional coronation, although later he dispensed with the tiara. The inaugurations of Popes John Paul I and John Paul II were simplifications of the old coronation ceremony, Valenziano said.
The biggest visual changes in the new rites, he said, are the fisherman's ring and the pallium.
Both, he said, are based on ancient designs.
The fisherman's gold ring, incised with a scene of St. Peter casting out his net, is similar to the old rings that popes used also as seals. Pope Benedict's pallium is similar to that worn by popes in the first millennium, he said.
Pope John Paul's pallium was a circular band worn over the shoulder with a 30-cm long strip hanging down the front and the back.
The new pallium wraps around the pope's shoulders and hangs down his left side just below his knees. The end piece is made of black silk, a symbol of "the black sheep which the shepherd rescues and carries over his shoulder back to the flock," Valenziano said.
Two major changes were made to the installation Mass.
The service began inside St. Peter's Basilica with all the concelebrating cardinals forming a circle around the main altar. Pope Benedict and the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic churches went down to St. Peter's tomb under the altar, paying their tribute to the apostle.
By walking into the square from the apostle's tomb, the monsignor said, the new pope tells the world, "I begin my ministry from the place where the apostle's ended."
The second change involved the act of obedience, which in the past was made by every cardinal at a papal inauguration.
The new rite was designed to demonstrate that the entire Church recognizes the newly elected pope, Valenziano said. Twelve people were chosen to represent all Catholics.
Three cardinals were joined by a bishop representing all bishops and a priest representing all priests.
The others included a transitional deacon from Africa; a Discalced Carmelite priest who serves as a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; a Benedictine abbess; a Korean married couple; a young woman from Sri Lanka; and a young man from Congo.
Valenziano said the new rites also call for the pope to go almost immediately to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to pay homage to the other martyr considered co-founder of the Church of Rome. Pope Benedict made that visit April 25.
The next major liturgies, set for May 7, will focus on the Diocese of Rome, which the pope heads. He will take possession of his cathedral, St. John Lateran, but also will be reminded of what the early Fathers of the Church said about the role of bishop, Valenziano said.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, papal vicar of Rome, will remind Pope Benedict that "you are elevated to watch over us, not because you are superior to us," that "your honour is true only if you do not obscure the honour of your brothers and sisters," and that his role is to be "the servant of the servants of God."
After leaving St. John Lateran, the new pope is scheduled to stop at the Basilica of St. Mary Major and offer his prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, particularly for the Diocese of Rome.
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