Pope Benedict's first Message  (April 20, 2005)

VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2005 (VIS) - Following is the complete text of the first message of Pope Benedict XVI which he delivered in Latin at the end of this morning's Mass with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the 264th successor to St. Peter in early evening yesterday.
 
  "Grace and peace in abundance to all of you! In my soul there are two contrasting sentiments in these hours. On the one hand, a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil for the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday as the Successor of the Apostle Peter in this See of Rome, with regard to the Universal Church. On the other hand I sense  within me profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - does not abandon His flock, but leads it throughout time, under the guidance of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.
 
  "Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!'
 
  "The death of the Holy Father John Paul II, and the days which followed, were for the Church and for the entire world an extraordinary time of grace. The great pain for his death and the void that it left in all of us were tempered by the action of the Risen Christ, which showed itself during long days in the choral wave of faith, love and spiritual solidarity, culminating in his solemn funeral.
 
  "We can say it: the funeral of John Paul II was a truly extraordinary experience in which was perceived in some way the power of God Who, through His Church, wishes to form a great family of all peoples, through the unifying force of Truth and Love. In the hour of death, conformed to his Master and Lord, John Paul II crowned his long and fruitful pontificate, confirming the Christian people in faith, gathering them around him and making the entire human family feel more united.
 
  "How can one not feel sustained by this witness? How can one not feel the encouragement that comes from this event of grace?
 
  "Surprising every prevision I had, Divine Providence, through the will of the venerable Cardinal Fathers, called me to succeed this great Pope. I have been thinking in these hours about what happened in the region of Cesarea of Phillippi two thousand years ago: I seem to hear the words of Peter: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God,' and the solemn affirmation of the Lord: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven'.
 
  "You are Christ! You are Peter! It seems I am reliving this very Gospel scene; I, the Successor of Peter, repeat with trepidation the anxious words of the fisherman from Galilee and I listen again with intimate emotion to the reassuring promise of the divine Master. If the weight of the responsibility that now lies on my poor shoulders is enormous, the divine power on which I can count is surely immeasurable: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church'. Electing me as the Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me as his Vicar, he wished me to be the 'rock' upon which everyone may rest with confidence. I ask him to make up for the poverty of my strength, that I may be a courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always docile to the inspirations of His Spirit.
 
  "I undertake this special ministry, the 'Petrine' ministry at the service of the Universal Church, with humble abandon to the hands of the Providence of God. And it is to Christ in the first place that I renew my total and trustworthy adhesion: 'In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum!'
 
  "To you, Lord Cardinals, with a grateful soul for the trust shown me, I ask you to sustain me with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration. I also ask my 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, 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. Thus, this path, upon which my venerated predecessors went forward, I too intend to follow, concerned solely with proclaiming to the world the living presence of Christ.
 
  "Before my eyes is, in particular, the witness of Pope John Paul II. He leaves us a Church that is more courageous, freer, younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future.  With the Great Jubilee the Church was introduced into the new millennium carrying in her hands the Gospel, applied to the world through the authoritative re-reading of Vatican Council II. Pope John Paul II justly indicated the Council as a 'compass' with which to orient ourselves in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Also in his spiritual testament he noted: ' I am convinced that for a very long time the new generations will draw upon the riches that this council of the 20th century gave us'.
 
  "I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will 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. Precisely this year is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of this conciliar assembly (December 8, 1965). With the passing of time, the conciliar documents have not lost their timeliness; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalized society.
 
  "In a very significant way, my pontificate starts as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. How can I not see in this providential coincidence an element that must mark the ministry to which I have been called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot  but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me.
 
  "The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the poor and the smallest.
 
  "In this year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on the theme "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.' I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.
 
  "I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly ministry was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. 'The priestly life must have in a special way a 'Eucharistic form', he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.
 
  "Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter's Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.
 
  "Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor 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 is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. 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.
 
  "Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that 'purification of memory,' which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.
 
  "The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, 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. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.
 
  "In this moment, I go back in my memory to the unforgettable experience we all underwent with the death and the funeral of the lamented John Paul II. Around his mortal remains, lying on the bare earth, leaders of nations gathered, with people from all social classes and especially the young, in an unforgettable embrace of affection and admiration. The entire world looked to him with trust. To many it seemed as if that intense participation, amplified to the confines of the planet by the social communications media, was like a choral request for help addressed to the Pope by modern humanity which, wracked by fear and uncertainty, questions itself about the future.
 
  "The Church today must revive within herself an awareness of the task to present the world again with the voice of the One Who said: 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.' In undertaking his ministry, the new Pope 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.
 
  "With this awareness, I address myself to everyone, even to those who follow other religions or who are simply seeking an answer to the fundamental questions of life and have not yet found it. I address everyone with simplicity and affection, to assure them that the Church wants to continue to build an open and sincere dialogue with them, in a search for the true good of mankind and of society.
 
  "From God I invoke unity and peace for the human family and declare the willingness of all Catholics to cooperate for true social development, one that respects the dignity of all human beings.
 
  "I will make every effort and dedicate myself to pursuing the promising dialogue that my predecessors began with various civilizations, because it is mutual understanding that gives rise to conditions for a better future for everyone.
 
  "I am particularly thinking of young people. To them, the privileged interlocutors of John Paul II, I send an affectionate embrace in the hope, God willing, of meeting them at Cologne on the occasion of the next World Youth Day. With you, dear young people, I will continue to maintain a dialogue, listening to your expectations in an attempt to help you meet ever more profoundly the living, ever young, Christ.
 
  "'Mane nobiscum, Domine!' Stay with us Lord! This invocation, which forms the dominant theme of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, is the prayer that comes spontaneously from my heart as I turn to begin the ministry to which Christ has called me. Like Peter, I too renew to Him my unconditional promise of faithfulness. He alone I intend to serve as I dedicate myself totally to the service of His Church.
 
  "In support of this promise, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, in whose hands I place the present and the future of my person and of the Church. May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, also intercede.
 
  "With these sentiments I impart to you venerated brother cardinals, to those participating in this ritual, and to all those following to us by television and radio, a special and affectionate blessing."

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April 19 Address on 1st Anniversary of Pontificate
"Alone I Could Not Carry Out This Task"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at the Wednesday general audience on April 19, the first anniversary of his pontificate.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the beginning of today's general audience which is taking place in the joyful atmosphere of Easter, I would like to thank the Lord together with you. After calling me, exactly a year ago, to serve the Church as the Successor of the Apostle Peter -- thank you for your joy, thank you for your applause -- he never fails to assist me with his indispensable help.

How quickly time passes! A year has already elapsed since the cardinals gathered in conclave and, in a way I found absolutely unexpected and surprising, desired to choose my poor self to succeed the late and beloved Servant of God, the great Pope John Paul II. I remember with emotion my first impact with the faithful gathered in this same square, from the central loggia of the basilica, immediately after my election.

That meeting is still impressed upon my mind and heart. It was followed by many others that have given me an opportunity to experience the deep truth of my words at the solemn concelebration with which I formally began to exercise my Petrine ministry: "I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone" (L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 27, 2005, p. 2).

And I feel more and more that alone I could not carry out this task, this mission. But I also feel that you are carrying it with me: Thus, I am in a great communion and together we can go ahead with the Lord's mission. The heavenly protection of God and of the saints is an irreplaceable support to me and I am comforted by your closeness, dear friends, who do not let me do without the gift of your indulgence and your love. I offer very warm thanks to all those who in various ways support me from close at hand or follow me from afar in spirit with their affection and their prayers. I ask each one to continue to support me, praying to God to grant that I may be a gentle and firm Pastor of his Church.

The Evangelist John says that precisely after his Resurrection Jesus called Peter to tend his flock (cf. John 21:15,23). Who could have humanly imagined then the development which was to mark that small group of the Lord's disciples down the centuries?

Peter, together with the apostles and then their successors, first in Jerusalem and later to the very ends of the earth, courageously spread the Gospel message, whose fundamental and indispensable core consists in the paschal mystery: the passion, the death and the resurrection of Christ.

The Church celebrates this mystery at Easter, extending its joyous resonance in the days that follow; she sings the alleluia for Christ's triumph over evil and death.
The celebration of Easter in accordance with a date on the calendar, Pope St. Leo the Great remarked, reminds us of the eternal feast that surpasses all human time. Today's Easter, he noted further, is the shadow of the future Easter. For this reason we celebrate it, to move on from an annual celebration to a celebration that will last forever.

The joy of these days extends throughout the liturgical year and is renewed especially on Sunday, the day dedicated to the memory of the Lord's resurrection. On Sunday, as it were, the "little Easter" of every week, the liturgical assembly gathered for holy Mass proclaims in the Creed that Jesus rose on the third day, adding that we wait for "the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

This shows that the event of Jesus' death and resurrection constitutes the center of our faith and that it is on this proclamation that the Church is founded and develops.

St. Augustine recalled incisively: "Let us consider, dear friends, the Resurrection of Christ: indeed, just as his Passion stood for our old life, his Resurrection is a sacrament of new life. ... You have believed, you have been baptized; the old life is dead, killed on the Cross, buried in Baptism. The old life in which you lived is buried: The new life emerges. Live well: Live life in such a way that when death comes you will not die (Sermo Guelferb. 9, 3).

The Gospel accounts that mention the appearances of the Risen One usually end with the invitation to overcome every uncertainty, to confront the event with the Scriptures, to proclaim that Jesus, beyond death, is alive forever, a source of new life for all who believe in him.

This is what happened, for example, in the case of Mary Magdalene (cf. John 20:11-18), who found the tomb open and empty and immediately feared that the body of the Lord had been taken away. The Lord then called her by name and at that point a deep change took place within her: Her distress and bewilderment were transformed into joy and enthusiasm. She promptly went to the apostles and announced to them: "I have seen the Lord" (John 20:18).

Behold: Those who meet the risen Jesus are inwardly transformed; it is impossible "to see" the Risen One without "believing" in him. Let us pray that he will call each one of us by name and thus convert us, opening us to the "vision" of faith.

Faith is born from the personal encounter with the Risen Christ and becomes an impulse of courage and freedom that makes one cry to the world: "Jesus is risen and alive for ever."

This is the mission of the Lord's disciples in every epoch and also in our time: "If, then, you have been raised with Christ," St. Paul exhorts us, "seek the things that are above. ... Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). This does not mean cutting oneself off from one's daily commitments, neglecting earthly realities; rather, it means reviving every human activity with a supernatural breath, it means making ourselves joyful proclaimers and witnesses of the resurrection of Christ, living for eternity (cf. John 20:25; Luke 24:33-34).

Dear brothers and sisters, in the Pasch of his Only-begotten Son, God fully revealed himself, his victorious power over the forces of death, the power of Trinitarian Love. May the Virgin Mary, who was closely associated with the Passion, death and Resurrection of the Son and at the foot of the cross became the Mother of all believers, help us to understand this mystery of love that changes hearts and makes us experience fully the joy of Easter, so that we in turn may be able to communicate it to the men and women of the third millennium.

To special groups

I offer a warm welcome to the newly ordained deacons of the Pontifical Irish College and their families. I also greet the pilgrims from the Diocese of Kerry. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and the United States, I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.

My thoughts now go to the sick and to the newlyweds. For you, dear sick people, may the resurrection of Christ be an inexhaustible source of comfort and hope. And you, dear newlyweds, may you be witnesses of the Risen Lord with your faithful conjugal love.

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