Pope Benedict XVI: 'Against my expectation, divine providence has called me'

From a speech given to the cardinals of the Catholic Church in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel

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On one hand I have a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil at the responsibility entrusted to me. On the other hand, I feel living in me a deep gratitude to God who does not abandon his flock but guides them always.

On one hand I have a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil at the responsibility entrusted to me. On the other hand, I feel living in me a deep gratitude to God who does not abandon his flock but guides them always.

I seem to feel [John Paul II's] strong hand holding mine, I seem to see his smiling eyes and hear him speaking to me at this moment, saying: "Don't be afraid."

Against my every expectation, divine providence has called me to succeed this great Pope. By choosing me, the Lord has called me to be a "rock" on which everybody can stand with confidence.

I intend to continue along this path [of evangelisation] started by my venerable predecessors, concerned solely with proclaiming the living presence of Christ to the entire world.

I too want to strongly reaffirm my determination to continue the commitment to carrying out [the decisions of] the Second Vatican Council.

I am willing to do everything in my power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism and am fully determined to accept every initiative that seems opportune to promote contact and understanding among representatives of the various churches and ecclesiastical communities. I take this opportunity to send all of them my most cordial greetings in Christ, the only Lord of all.

I welcome everybody with simplicity and love to assure them that the Church wants to continue in open and sincere dialogue with them, in search of the true good of man and society.

I declare the willingness of all Catholics to co-operate to achieve authentic social development which respects the dignity of every human being. I will spare no effort and commitment to continue the promising dialogue with other civilisations that was started by my venerable predecessors.

My thoughts are particularly with the young. To them, who had a privileged relationship with Pope John Paul II, I send my affectionate embrace as I wait, God willing, to meet them in Cologne for the next World Day of Youth. I will continue to talk with you, dear young people.

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