Benedict follows in the footsteps of John Paul by sharing his thoughts with pilgrims at St Peter’s
Pope Benedict XVI has delivered his first Sunday noon blessing and launched appeals for peace, for the defence of workers’ rights and for unity between Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
“I address you for the first time from this window, which my beloved predecessor rendered so familiar to innumerable people around the world,” Pope Benedict said.
A crowd of nearly 100,000 gathered in the square to see the new Pontiff and started to applaud even before he appeared at the window of the Apostolic Palace. The first wave of applause started as soon as his aides unfurled the red and gold cloth that hangs from the window whenever the Pope speaks.
It was the first time a pope had been seen on the balcony since John Paul blessed the crowds three days before his death. Following in the footsteps of John Paul, Pope Benedict used his Sunday appearance to express concerns over current world events and to launch appeals. “In these days I find myself thinking often of all peoples who suffer because of war, illness and poverty,” the German Pope said. “In particular, today, I am close to the dear populations of Togo, ravaged by painful internal conflicts. For all these nations I implore the gift of harmony and peace.” In Togo, political violence has claimed more than 20 lives since disputed national elections on April 24. The clashes have sent thousands of people fleeing their homes.
The crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square included thousands of representatives of Italy’s major trade unions who were in Rome to mark May Day celebrations and the feast day of St Joseph the Worker, all workers’ patron saint. Speaking to the crowd, which included members of Italy’s Association of Christian Workers, Pope Benedict said believers must promote “Christian fraternity... in the workplace and in social life so that solidarity, justice and peace may be pillars on which to build the unity of the Christian family.” Pope Benedict recalled that Pope Pius XII had created the feast day “to stress the importance of work and of the presence of Christ and the Church in the labour world.
“It is necessary to pay witness also in today’s society to the ‘Gospel of work,’which John Paul II spoke of in his encyclical Laborem Exercens,” Pope Benedict said. “I hope that work will not be lacking, especially for young people, and that working conditions will respect always the dignity of the human person.” May 1 was also Orthodox Easter. Pope Benedict’s first words after remembering Pope John Paul were for Orthodox Christians. “I would like to greet with special affection the Orthodox churches and the Oriental Orthodox churches which this very Sunday celebrate the resurrection of Christ,” the Pope said.
“To these dear brothers, I address the traditional announcement of joy, ‘Christos Anesti,’” he said, using the Greek words for “Christ is risen”.
Coat of arms
POPE Benedict XVI’s papal coat of arms, which was revealed last week, breaks with tradition by losing the triple-tiered papal crown at the top, writes David V Barrett. The new crest is surmounted by a mitre, with three gold bands symbolising the triple crown – representing order, jurisdiction and magisterium, connected by a vertical gold stripe “to indicate their unity in the same person”. Another innovation is the addition of the papal pallium with black crosses below the crest, emphasising the Pope’s pastoral role.
The crest retains the crossed keys which symbol ise the authority of St Peter and his successors.
The centre of the coat of arms is taken from Pope Benedict’s crest when he was Archbishop of Munich. In the centre is a large gold shell which “reminds me of my great master Augustine, of my theological work, and of the vastness of the mystery which surpasses all our learn ing,” wrote the then Cardinal Ratzinger in his 1997 autobiography Milestones. The shell also symbolises the pilgrim The shield bears the head of a Moor “an expression of the universality of the Church which knows no distinctions of race or class since all are one in Christ”, according to the Pope in Milestones.
At the top right is a brown bear with a pack on his back. According to an old Bavarian legend, when St Corbinian, the first bishop and patron saint of Freising, was on his way to Rome, a bear attacked and killed his horse. St Corbinian punished the bear by making him carry his belongings the rest of the way to Rome.