VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI thanked the world's cardinals for placing their trust in him and asked them for their continued prayers and counsel.
"Dear brothers, to you goes my most personal thanks for the trust you have placed in me by electing me bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church," he told the cardinals during an April 22 meeting in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.
Rather than outline any projects or directions for the Church, Pope Benedict said he convoked the meeting to share "in a simple and fraternal way" what he was feeling.
The pope said he felt "an intimate need for silence and two complementary feelings: a heartfelt desire to give thanks and a sense of human impotence in the face of the serious task that awaits me."
Pope Benedict said the cardinals' "act of trust" also was "an encouragement to undertake this new mission with more serenity because, in addition to the indispensable help of God, I know I can count on your generous collaboration."
"I ask you, never let me lack your support," he said.
"If, on the one hand, I know the limits of my person and of my abilities, on the other hand I know well what is the nature of the mission entrusted to me and which I undertake with an attitude of interior dedication," Pope Benedict said.
The new pope said his position is not about honor but about service, and he, together with the cardinals, must do their personal best to fulfill God's will.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, promised that the cardinals would support and assist Pope Benedict with his ministry.
In Pope John Paul II's death and funeral and in the conclave and the election of Pope Benedict, he said, "we all have been witnesses of the assistance that the Lord always grants his holy Church."
The Church, he said, is "a tree that receives new life each day and thrives."
"We cardinals are happy that the one giving vigor today to the tree of the Church is Pope Benedict XVI. To him goes all of our devotion, our total collaboration and our fraternal affection in Christ Jesus," Cardinal Sodano said.
At the end of the audience, each of the cardinals went up to greet Pope Benedict and kiss his hand. When the more elderly cardinals or those who use a cane or a wheelchair approached, the pope stood and went to greet them.
The pope and the cardinals sang the "Regina Coeli" prayer together. Then after Pope Benedict said, "Thank you and see you Sunday" for the installation Mass, the cardinals broke into the chanted "Oremus Pro Pontifice" ("Let us pray for the pontiff").
"Let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him to be blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies," they sang.
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