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New Pope Meets with Cardinals

Pope Benedict XVI (r) greets Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano of Italy
The new pope had his first meeting Friday with the cardinals in the apostolic palace. One day after confirming the entire Vatican hierarchy, Pope Benedict XVI urged the cardinals to continue to support him in his difficult task.

The cardinals greeted the pope with applause when he entered the frescoed Clementine Hall of the apostolic palace in the Vatican. The first comments were made by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who Thursday was reconfirmed in his position.

"Holy Father, the cardinals are pleased that Pope Benedict XVI is today the one who will give vigor to the tree of the church," Cardinal Sodano said. "You have all of our devotion, our total collaboration and our fraternal love in Christ."

Pope Benedict XVI thanked the cardinal for his words, and then addressed all the prelates. He told them he wanted to share with them the feelings he has been experiencing.

The new pope spoke of his need for silence, due to the intense emotions he felt during the death of his predecessor, John Paul II and the conclave that elected him to succeed John Paul II.

Pope Benedict said he had felt a need for thanksgiving in his heart for the mission entrusted to him, while, at the same time, experiencing a feeling of human impotence in the face of the high task that awaits him.

He told the cardinals that his initial encounter with the faithful in Saint Peter's Square after his election was truly touching. Pope Benedict thanked the cardinals for their support and faith in electing him as the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

"It's an act of faith," the pope said, "that constitutes encouragement, as I undertake this new mission with more serenity, because I am able to count on your generous collaboration, as well as the indispensable help of God."

After the pope's address, the cardinals lined up to greet him one-by-one, and kneel before him. Some he embraced, others he exchanged some words with.

The new pope is to meet with journalists in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican on Saturday, and on Sunday, an outdoor mass will be held for his inauguration ceremony in Saint Peter's Square.

The Rome authorities are again preparing to receive hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, many from the new pope's native Germany.