Cardinal Rigali on the Gift of a New Pope

Notes Benedict XVI’s Commitment to the Dignity of Every Person

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ROME, MAY 4, 2005 ( Cardinal Justin Rigali sees the new Pope’s commitment to promoting the dignity of people as a key response to terrorism.

The archbishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was among those participating in the events of Benedict XVI’s first week as Pontiff. Here is an excerpt of an interview he gave April 25, the day after the inauguration of the new pontificate.

Q: How, in particular, did you experience the occasion of the installation Mass of Pope Benedict XVI?

Cardinal Rigali: This event was a wonderful celebration of the papacy. This great gift which Christ gave to the Church — the Successor of Peter here — is our chief shepherd and the chief fishermen of Christ’s flock.

At the same time it was a wonderful feast of the Church. In the homily, the Holy Father mentioned that, looking at all the youth who were present and assisting him, that the Church was alive and young. So, we saw this in a very special way at this Mass. …

Q: We are living in a difficult moment of unrest with terrorism that has hit the hearts of the world. The Pope with the assistance of the College of Cardinals has emphasized the importance of peace and true respect of the dignity of each human being. Could you comment on how he is doing this?

Cardinal Rigali: The Holy Father has launched, once again, to all the Catholics of the world, to all the people of the Church, the challenge to be ourselves — to listen to the Word of God and to be challenged by conversion and holiness of life. And at the same time he points out the Church must also be ever solicitous for the developments of peoples.

Jesus himself went around proclaiming the Kingdom but he also went around doing good — this is the legacy that the Church has received. And just as John Paul II mentioned, the way of the Church is man, the human person is so important. …

Once again Benedict XVI has committed the Church to the development that will lead to the increased dignity of every man, woman and child. And so, we see from the very beginning of his pontificate … this commitment to the internal mission of the Church, to the external mission of the Church.

And the Church, in order to be herself, must be holy. She must be converted but she must also reach out to the world in the way the Second Vatican Council has directed us; reach out to the world to be of service to the human person and to be of service to human life and to human dignity.

Q: As this Pope reaches out to the world, he asks us for prayers to sustain him in his mission. How do you see the people of the United States supporting Benedict XVI?

Cardinal Rigali: The people of my archdiocese, people throughout the whole world, assisted the cardinals in a very special way as we came to Rome in order to participate in the conclave.

So many people assured us that they were praying for us, praying that the Holy Spirit would be with the cardinals, that the Holy Spirit would enlighten us.

And now we have a new Pope. The people of God throughout the whole world are intent on sustaining him, just as they sustained the cardinals during the process of choosing a Pope — they are behind the new Pope. The scene is just like the scene from the Acts of the Apostles where there is incessant prayer for Peter.

Our people are showing this and I personally am extremely grateful to the people of my archdiocese, but all of us are grateful to the people of the world that they are sustaining the new Pope.

He expressed in his homily, the fact that he is not alone; he says, “How will I possibly face this?” — and the answer comes that, first of all, the Lord is with him but the Lord is with him also through the prayers of millions of people throughout the world.

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