Pope Benedict XVI received German pilgrims in the Vatican just one day after his official inauguration. The Bavarian pontiff told his countrymen that he had prayed not to be made head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Bavarians flocked to Rome to see "their" Pope
The new Pope arrived slightly behind schedule for his private meeting with thousands of German followers who flocked to Rome to witness his Sunday Mass. But he apologised for his tardiness with a joke about having traded his German punctuality and for a sense of Mediterranean laissez-faire. "I have become a bit of an Italian," he said to the cheering crowd.
But he then pacified them by saying "I have been in Rome for 23 years but I am still a Bavarian." Benedict spent four minutes shaking hands with the pilgrims from his native Germany, in his first papal experience of mingling with an adoring crowd.
Pope Benedict XVI
It was also a chance for the German crowd to hear their Pope speaking in his native tongue, something he did not do on Sunday in his inaugural Mass at St. Peter's Square. As he addressed his listeners, Pope Benedict XVI confined in them that he had prayed to God during that his fellow cardinals would not elect him as the new leader of the Catholic church. "But he obviously wasn't listening," he said, before going on to tell his eager congregation that life doesn't always run according to plan.
He also asked the pilgrims from his native Germany for their "understanding" if he makes mistakes, calling for their help and their trust as he begins his pontificate.
"Let's walk together, I trust in your help and I ask your
understanding if I make mistakes, as happens to every man. I ask you to give me your trust," he said.
Meeting of religious minds
Earlier, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, met with religious leaders who had been present at his installation ceremony. Pope Benedict XVI assured the Muslim community that the Catholic church wishes to "continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole." He said he appreciated the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians at both a local and an international level.
The late Pope John Paul II
During the meeting, he said he was "particularly grateful that all religious representatives were present" and stressed his commitment to working towards Christian unity. He told Protestant and Orthodox leaders that peace depends upon working towards it together. The new pontiff also said he was determined to work in the same vain as his predecessor Pope John Paul II, who died three weeks ago.
The late pope was highly respected by non-Catholics for his efforts to forge closer ties between other branches of Christianity and other religions.