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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Benedict XVI Inauguration

ROME, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Pope Benedict XVI was formally installed in a high-profile ceremony in the St. Peter's Square in the Vatican Sunday to officially start the ministry of the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

The open-air ceremony, known as Ceremony of Investiture, included an inaugural Mass to provide the new pope a major platform to set the tone for his pontificate.

Attending the ceremony were an estimated 350,000 people, including a large number of pilgrims from the new pope's native Germany, political leaders and ceremonial dignitaries.

The 78-year-old Benedict XVI was elected the 265th pope on April 19, 11 days after the death of Pope John Paul II on April 8.

The new pope began the ceremony by processing into the area under St. Peter's Basilica where St. Peter is believed to be buried.

In a symbolic moment of the inaugural Mass, Benedict was given a Fisherman's Ring and a woolen pallium or shawl -- symbols of the papal authority.

Benedict ended the inaugural Mass by riding in a white open-topped white jeep surrounded by plain-clothed guards.


If you would like to send the Pope an email of congratulations you can email him at the Vatican.

Greetings to the Holy Father

Vatican is Ready for Inauguration

Benedict XVI Buttons

VATICAN CITY – The crescendo is building. Souvenirs are beginning to arrive, a sea of plastic chairs is being set up, and the marble steps of St. Peter's Basilica are being decorated with bright green sod.

By the time San Diego wakes up tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI should be officially installed, confirming Tuesday's election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new leader of the largest church in Christianity.

Postcards, bookmarks, candles and silver rosary cases with the likeness of the new Roman Catholic pope began popping up in some stores and stands yesterday.

More memorabilia is expected to arrive today and tomorrow, just in time for the new pope to bless the items. "All will be blessed," said a 71-year-old vendor, who had a small stack of silver cases with an oval photograph of Benedict on the outside and plastic rosary beads on the inside. "On Sunday, the pope will bless them."

Workers in tool belts maneuvered around tourists with cameras as the massive elliptical plaza was being transformed into a stadium-size church.

A half-million people are expected to attend the outdoor service, which will begin at 10 a.m. Rome time (1 a.m. PDT) in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Police have cordoned off nearby streets in Rome with yellow tape, both for security and in anticipation of a spillover crowd for this first papal inauguration Mass in 26 years.

Yesterday, the new pope met with the College of Cardinals – including those who participated in this week's conclave and the older cardinals who were ineligible to vote. He thanked them for their support and described what has been an emotional three weeks, from the death of Pope John Paul II, "my venerated predecessor," on April 2 to his own election to succeed him 17 days later.

"I pray that your support for me may never fail," Benedict told them. Today, Benedict meets with the thousands of journalists covering the historic events of this month. Pope John Paul II also met with the media after his election in 1978.

Tomorrow's inauguration Mass will be rich with ritual, as Benedict receives the Ring of the Fisherman and the white, stole-like pallium that signifies his office.

Let me insert a little something about the Papal Ring: The Ring of the Fisherman

When Pope Jophn Paul II died, Cardinal Somalo broke the Fisherman's Ring and the lead seal used to authenticate papal letters, "as foreseen by the Apostolic Constitution", Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

The ritual was attended by 143 cardinals - the "princes" of the Catholic Church.

A new ring is cast in gold for each pontiff.

It has a relief of St Peter - revered as the first pope and said to have been a fisherman. The pope's name is written in Latin on the ring.

Historically, the pope would use the ring to seal private documents and the lead seal for public documents.

The audience will be rich in dignitaries – including a contingent of German leaders headed by President Horst Koehler, coming to see the first German-born pope installed in nearly 1,000 years. The 78-year-old pontiff will meet with pilgrims from his homeland Monday.

Leading the U.S. contingent is President Bush's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Also going are 21 members of the House of Representatives. Five are from California (one from Northern California and four from the Los Angeles area).

Response to the selection of Ratzinger, a Vatican insider who spent the past 24 years heading the agency that defends church teachings, continues to be mixed.

<>The Florida-based Hindu American Foundation was among the latest to express its apprehension. In a statement, the foundation's president referred to comments Ratzinger made eight years ago when he called Hinduism a religion of "false hope." Dr. Mihir Meghani said, "We sincerely hope that the pope will reconsider his prior unfortunate reflections."

Authorities Get Ready for Inaugural Mass

Authorities in Rome have tightened security ahead of the new Pope's inauguration mass later today.

About half a million people are expected to flood to St Peter's Square for the mass.

There will be 36 heads of state including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Britain's Prince Philip and the US President's brother, Jeb Bush.

Religious leaders include the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

The airspace over Rome will close down and fighter planes and helicopters will patrol overhead.

Benedict XVI will deliver his first public homily as Pope, in front of St Peter's Basilica - the same location, where he presided over John Paul II's funeral two weeks ago.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

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