UPDATED FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2005 1:52 AM ET
By IAN FISHER
Published: April 28, 2005
thousands of pilgrims on a brilliant morning in St. Peter's Square, he
explained that he had chosen the name Benedict for several reasons, among them
the role that St. Benedict of Norcia in Italy, the
sixth-century author of the monastic "Rule" that led to the founding
of the Benedictine order, had on spreading Christianity in Europe. Benedict is
one of the patron saints of
"He represents a fundamental point
of reference for the unity of
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
before he was chosen pope last week, he wrote often of his worries that
Though liberal Catholics often criticized Cardinal Ratzinger, who was the church's doctrinal watchdog, for opinions they called hard-line and divisive, in his eight days as pope, Benedict has repeatedly reached out in his speeches - to Jews and Muslims, and to Orthodox Christians and other branches of Christianity - and said his reign would be devoted to unity.
In the months before Pope John Paul II died, the Wednesday audiences - prayers and greetings open to almost anyone - had virtually ended because of his long hospital stays and fragile health. On Wednesday, Benedict announced that he would "start anew" the audiences after the "pious death of venerated predecessor, John Paul II."
Although Benedict was not much in the public eye when he was Cardinal Ratzinger - and does not seem naturally to love being the center of attention - as pope he has kept a grueling schedule of public events and seems to be warming to it.
As he did Sunday, when he was formally
installed as pope, he toured St. Peter's Square in his popemobile,
again without protective glass though surrounded by security guards. As is
customary in the audiences, he read out to loud cheers the towns and
organizations of pilgrims in the crowd - on Wednesday from
The crowds seem to be warming to Benedict as well, and for all the affection for John Paul, some said it was refreshing to watch a pope who was healthy and meeting crowds.
"It's beautiful and really moving to see a pope among the people," said Elena Trivitera, 13, holding up a sign greeting the pope from her school in Sicily, whose students traveled to Rome especially for the audience. "He is out getting to know us, and we are getting to know him."
For the first time as pope, Benedict read
out greetings in Spanish, the main language in
On Wednesday, Benedict also read the greetings in English, German, French, Italian and Polish.