World leaders pay respects to Pope Benedict
Sun Apr 24,11:23 AM ET Entertainment - AFP
The first to greet him as he sat near the altar under the great
dome of St Peter's basilica were the leaders of his native
Gerhard Schroeder and Edmund Stoiber, premier of
the southern German state of
Each dignitary bowed or knelt, the men shaking hands, some of the women kissing his hand or the ring of office.
Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of
The pope, resplendent in his vestments, exchanged a few words with each dignitary. One he helped up by the elbow, another he patted on the shoulder.
As the file of well-wishers approached, almost everyone from the
southern hemisphere, particularly from
The same could be said of Westerners as well, one of whom leaned over and rested his hands on the arms of the pope's throne, as he chatted.
Yet others appeared stiffer, though no less amiable. Some would simply bow, often bending over uncomfortably as they spoke, and many genuflecting.
The representatives of more than 100 nations who attended the inauguration mass on the esplanade of the basilica included more than 30 heads of state or government.
Pope Benedict was elected by fellow cardinals Tuesday to succeed John Paul II, who died April 2.