Pope says his power has a purpose

The Holy Father's power is not absolute, but must be used to defend church doctrine against attempts to water it down, Pope Benedict XVI said as he took possession of his cathedral as the bishop of Rome.

"The pope is not an absolute sovereign whose thoughts and will are law," Pope Benedict said, acknowledging that papal authority is a stumbling block for some people, who see the teaching magisterium as a threat to freedom of belief and of conscience.

"He must not proclaim his own ideas but instead, in the face of all attempts to adapt or water it down, and of every opportunism, he constantly must bind himself and the church in obedience to the word of God."

Benedict went on to say that his predecessor, John Paul II, was carrying out this task when he repeatedly demanded respect for human life, in the face of mounting public opposition. "The freedom to kill is not true freedom, a but a tyranny that reduces human beings to slavery," he said.

On Saturday, Pope Benedict took possession of Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran, the diocesan cathedral, as thousands of Romans gathered outside to welcome him.

During the liturgy inside the basilica, he stood at the foot of the bishop's throne listening to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar for Rome, reminding him that the pope must be "the servant of the servants of God."

Papal power must be used to protect faith, Pope Benedict says (Catholic News Service 9/5/05)
In Rome's cathedral, Pope explains his authority (Catholic World News 10/5/05)

7 May 2005: Eucharistic Celebration and Installation in the Chair of the Bishop of Rome (Italian - check later for English)

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11 May 2005