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Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI formally began his stewardship of the Roman Catholic Church Sunday, reaching out to Jews, believers and non-believers during his inauguration mass.

In a tomb under Saint Peter's Basilica, the world's 265th pontiff began his new journey by paying homage to the first pope, the apostle Peter, where he is thought to be buried. Then Benedict the 16th emerged before a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Saint Peter's Square.

"I could never carry alone, all the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me and your prayers, my dear friends," said Pope Benedict XVI.

In his homily message, Benedict stressed the church's shared spiritual heritage with Jews and Christians of other faiths. The pope spoke mostly in general terms. He made no reference to Islam, or any current political issues. He said wanted to reach out to believers and non-believers alike.

Adorned with his fisherman's ring and Pallium shawl, Benedict greeted dignitaries, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, the king of England, the queen of Spain and President Bush's brother Jeb, a Catholic convert.

At times the 78-year-old seemed tired, but then seemed boosted as he rode open air to the cheers of his followers.

In the coming months the world will be watching to see if he introduces initiatives or simply remains more of a transitional leader, but in contrast to his reputation as a doctrine watchdog, his emerging image is of a humble and welcoming man.


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