Monday, November 26, 2007

Amid Papal Pomp, the Kid Makes the Picture

The Pope might've been onstage in the Paul VI Hall, but the young nephew of newly-elevated Cardinal Leonardo Sandri became a star attraction all his own in the front rows of this morning's audience for the neo-reds, their families and pilgrims. (The prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Sandri is seated second from top in the photo.)

Addressing his new appointees before the packed crowd of 6,000, Benedict XVI asked them to "always accompany" him with their "respected human and pastoral experience.

"I rely much on this precious support," the pontiff said. "I need this support."

After ending the audience with his blessing, Benedict began receiving the delegations of the cardinals and their families, along with greeting the bishops present for the weekend's events.

The single mass audience for all consistory pilgrims continues a tradition begun late in the reign of John Paul II; in his haler days, the late Pope would hold more intimate audiences with each language group in attendance. However, one exception was made this time around: B16 privately received a delegation from Iraq, present for the elevation of the Baghdad-based Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly. While Papa Ratzi offered remarks to welcome the group, further details of the meeting have yet to materialize.

Earlier today, the Pope also met with one of his "brain trust," the Canadian primate Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec.

Just before leaving for Rome last week, the heated debate on the Francophone province's religious identity took a new turn as Ouellet let loose an unexpected apology for past sins and abuses either condoned or perpetrated by the church's leadership.

A "public display of repentance" will take place in Lent, the cardinal said, as Quebec City prepares to host the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in mid-June.

PHOTO: AP/Alessandra Tarantino