Heartening homily of those willing to hear it

Benedict XVI’s first homily as pope is a good opportunity for those who are certain the world is ending to take heart.

He specified some of the top priorities of his papacy: the promotion of the unity of Christians and a commitment to ecumenism, the continued dialogue with other religions and the fulfillment of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Speaking in Latin, as is customary, in the brightly frescoed Sistine Chapel, where he was elected only a day before, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, also made repeated references to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, confirming that his own papacy would be one of continuity.


American cardinals said today that the new pope had been unfairly caricatured as an unfeeling conservative in his role for more than two decades as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog.

They instead described him, at a news conference at the Pontifical North American College, as a caring, brilliant churchman who listens to those with opposing views.

“He wants to be collegial,” said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington. “He wants the advice of cardinals. That for me is one of the great things.”

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