Inaugural Mass of Benedict XVI

Source: FSSPX News

“The Church is living, the Church is young” declared Benedict XVI during the mass of inauguration of his pontificate on April 24, before 350,000 faithful. During his homily, regularly interrupted by applause, the pope did not intend to “present a program of government” but rather evoked the symbols of his charge, the pallium and the fisherman’s ring. He often referred to his predecessor, John-Paul II, inviting the youth not to fear and to “open wide the doors to Christ”.

“At this moment there is no need for me to present a program of governance”, declared the sovereign pontiff, wishing rather to evoke “certain aspects of what I consider to be my charge”. “My true program of governance is not to do my will”, (…) “but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history”, he emphasized.

Benedict XVI then spoke of “the two liturgical symbols which represent the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry”: the pallium and the fisherman’s ring. “The first sign is the pallium”, he underscored, raising it up to show the crowd, “woven of pure wool, which is placed on my shoulders”. “This very ancient sign that the bishops of Rome have worn since the end of the fourth century, can be considered as an image of the yoke of Christ that the bishop of this city (…) takes on his shoulders”.

“Knowing what God wants, knowing what is the path of life, (…) such is our joy”, he continued, explaining that the will of God does not alienate but purifies. “In reality, the symbolism of the pallium is even more concrete: the wool of the lamb symbolizes the lost sheep”. “Humanity – all of us – is the lost sheep in the desert that has lost its way”.

How many times have we wanted God to show Himself more plainly! We want him to strike decisively, to defeat evil and create a better world!” declared the pope. “All ideologies of power use this justification, justify the destruction of what is opposed to progress and the liberation of humanity”. “The world is redeemed by the patience of God and destroyed by the impatience of humanity”, he asserted. The sovereign pontiff declared he was “ready to suffer” and then said: “pray for me that I will continue to learn how to love the Lord”. “Pray for me that I continue to learn how to love his flock, all of you, the Holy Church, each of you personally and all of you together”. “Pray for me that I do not, out of fear, flee before the wolves” he finally pleaded.

Then he evoked the second sign of the beginning of his Petrine ministry, the taking of the fisherman’s ring. Recalling the episode in the Gospel during which Peter is called to become a pastor and which follows the account of the abundant catch of fish, Benedict XVI recalled how again today “the Church and the successors of the apostles are invited to go out to the open sea of history and throw out the nets to conquer men for God, for Christ, for true life”.

“We men, we live alienated, in the salt water of suffering and death, in an ocean of obscurity, without light”, he emphasized. “The net of the Gospel draws us out of the waters of death and introduces us into the splendor of the light of God, into true life”. “We must draw men out of the salty sea of all these alienations toward the land of life, toward the light of God”, he continued. “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution”, he again explained, stating that “each of us is the fruit of a thought of God” and that “each of us is willed, each is loved, each is necessary”.

“I would like to again emphasize one thing: from the image of the pastor and that of the fisherman emerges a very explicit appeal to unity”, Benedict XVI asserted. “Alas, (…) today the net is torn, we wish to say with sadness!” he said, evoking the difficult path of ecumenism. But, the pope asked his audience “not to be sad” and to do “everything possible to persevere in the way toward unity”. “Don’t let your net get torn and help us in being servants of unity!” he again affirmed, addressing himself to the Lord.

Benedict XVI then made reference to “October 22, 1978, when pope John-Paul II began his ministry here, in St. Peter’s Square”. “The words he pronounced then still and always resound in my ears” ‘Be not afraid, rather, open wide the doors to Christ’”. “The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free”. “Yes, he would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased”. He then affirmed that the Lord “would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society”.

Finally, at the end of the homily, Benedict XVI addressed himself especially to the youth. “With great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ!” he told them. He further added that Christ “takes nothing away” and “gives everything”, adding that “when we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return” and concluding: “Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.”