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Pope says thought of his election made him "lightheaded"


Speaking to pilgrims from his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI has reflected on the "slow unfolding of the voting process" at the conclave, and how he felt when it became evident that "the guillotine was coming closer and was meant for me".

The thought of becoming the next pope "made my head spin," he told the pilgrims. "I had thought that up until now my life's work was done and that the years ahead of me would be more restful," said the pope.

Catholic News Service reports that a fellow cardinal-elector gave the future pope a letter reminding him of a phrase he had used during his homily at the funeral Mass of Pope John Paul II: "If the Lord calls you, you must obey".

Some 3000 pilgrims from all over Germany filed into the Paul VI audience hall to meet with the newly elected German pontiff on Monday, the day after he was formally installed as pope.

When he arrived, the pope walked the length of the hall, shook hands with pilgrims and blessed two infants along the way. When he took to the stage to begin his address, he asked the enthusiastic audience members to forgive his being late.

"We Germans are usually very punctual, but it looks like I have become Italian," he joked, after arriving from his previous meeting ten minutes late. He explained he was delayed because his meeting with ecumenical leaders "was so cordial" that it lasted longer than expected.

He said when the voting was showing him to be the clear favourite he prayed to God "to spare me". He said he told God, "You have candidates who are younger, better, stronger and have more elan than me."

"Evidently God did not listen to me," he said.

But the pope said he gathered strength for accepting the cardinals' decision from the letter given to him by a fellow cardinal-elector. He said the "touching" letter reminded the pope of the theme he chose for the mid-April funeral Mass homily that when one is called by God that call "cannot be rejected."

SOURCE
Pope says thought of his election made him lightheaded, doubtful (Catholic News Service 25/4/05)

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27 Apr 2005