Pope again delights pilgrims with visit to his old apartment
By JohnThavis
Catholic News Service
Pope Benedict XVI blesses a child as he leaves a prayer service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
(CNS photo from Catholic Press Photo)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI delighted pilgrims and passers-by for the second day in a row as he went outside the Vatican walls to visit his old apartment.
A crowd of several hundred people thronged the apartment entrance April 21 after the new pope arrived in a car and went inside, apparently to rearrange his belongings for the move into the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
The evening before, the pope kissed two French children on his way out of the apartment.
"I'm really very touched," Pope Benedict said, smiling, as he waved to the crowd.
The pope also took time to drop in on some of his neighbors in the building, which stands just across the street from Vatican City and houses several cardinals.
"It was like a good neighbor saying goodbye," Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who lives in the building, said after the pope stopped by.
"The pope was in his old apartment, perhaps looking over papers.…Then he had the courtesy to go and visit the apartments of the other residents. I never imagined that. He used the stairs," Cardinal Castrillon told Vatican Radio.
Meanwhile, the Vatican said Pope Benedict had scheduled meetings with journalists, cardinals and international delegations during his first week as pope.
In one of the first acts of his papacy, the new pope returned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and greeted officials and staff of the office he headed for 24 years.
The visit April 20 came after a morning Mass with the cardinals who elected him the day before. The Vatican described the meeting as "very cordial."
Afterward, the new pontiff went to the Apostolic Palace to see the papal apartment, which had been sealed after the death of Pope John Paul II.
The pope then had lunch with several top Vatican officials to determine his schedule in coming days:
-- A meeting April 22 with all the cardinals present in Rome, including those over age 80 who did not vote in the conclave.
-- A meeting April 23 with international journalists.
-- The 10 a.m. Mass April 24 at the Vatican to mark the official start of his pontificate.
-- On April 25, reception of the delegations present for his inauguration Mass and a trip to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
The pope was staying temporarily in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guest house, until the papal apartment is ready.

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