Vatican City

Pope stresses 'brotherhood' with cardinals

Calls on princes of the Church to impart wisdom to youth

Pope stresses 'brotherhood' with cardinals

Vatican City, March 15 - Pope Francis began his second day as the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics with an informal meeting with cardinals at the Vatican's Clementine Hall on Friday in which he stressed that the princes of the Church were his brothers. "We are brothers, the cardinals are the priests of the Holy Father, we live that community, that friendship and closeness which will do us all good," the new pope told the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall. Francis, who is expected to try to end reported rifts in the Catholic Church's governing body, the Curia, stressed the importance of Church unity. He called on cardinals to impart their wisdom to the youth of the world. "Dear Brothers, have courage! Half of us are old: I like to think of old age as the seat of wisdom in life," he said. "Old people have wisdom because they know they have journeyed through life - like the aged Simeon and Anna in the Temple. "It was that wisdom that allowed them to recognise Jesus. We must give this wisdom to young people: like good wine that improves with age, let us give young people this life's wisdom. "I'm reminded of what a German poet said about aging: "Es ist ruhig, das Alter, und fromm" - "age is the time of peace and prayer". We need to give young people this wisdom. Francis, who was elevated to the throne of St Peter Wednesday, also thanked his 85-year-old predecessor Benedict XVI, who became the first pope to abdicate in 600 years last month citing a decline in physical and mental strength. Francis told cardinals that Benedict "enriched the Church with the magistery of faith, humility and mildness. The new pontiff said Benedict's legacy "will remain a spiritual patrimony for all". The Argentine pope said his German predecessor had shown "total dedication to the Throne of St Peter". Francis was elected Wednesday after only five rounds of voting - just one more than Benedict XVI when he was elected in 2005. Vatican watchers say Francis was himself the runner-up that year. Reflecting on the election inside the Sistine Chapel this week, Francis said Friday it was "charged with meaning not just for the College of Cardinals but for all the faithful". "We had a marked sense of the affection and solidarity of the universal Church, as well as the attention of many people who do not share our faith but who look with respect and admiration on the Church and the Holy See". Francis also expressed his gratitude to Christians all over the world and to the crowd that gathered in St Peter's Square to witness his election for their "touching and intense spiritual closeness". But it was the theme of brotherhood among cardinals that carried the pope's address, and there was no better metaphor for fraternal support than when Pope Francis almost took a tumble as he was going down from the dais but regained his balance as he embraced the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, who was coming to meet him.

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