St. Peter’s Square was once again witness to a huge outdoor mass Sunday 24 April in honour of the official installation ceremony of the 265th Pope.
Pope Benedict was presented with the symbols of Papal power, the pallium (a drape of white wool adorned with red crosses) and the Fisherman’s ring (a gold ring with the image of St. Peter the fisherman, used as the Pope’s official seal).
He then offered a sermon to the crowds below. About half a million pilgrims filled the square alongside many important political and religious leaders. The devoted crowds responded to his sermon with long applauses. Many German flags could be seen throughout the square as thousands of Germans flocked to see one their fellow countrymen enter as pope for the first time since the 11th century. The German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Horst Koehler were also in attendance.
Other heads of state included French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Rafarin and Spanish King Juan Carlos. US President George W. Bush was represented by his brother Jeb Bush.
Many hoped to get some insight into what German Cardinal Ratzinger would be doing now that he had become Pope Benedict XVI. In his homily, the pope spoke of the many challenges he would have to confront and the need to be supported. He claimed that his main task was not to present a programme but to listen to the will of God.
During his sermon, the pope also called out for unity with Jews as well as within the factions of Christian denominations.