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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 22:20 GMT 23:20 UK
Delighted city welcomes new Pope
by Paul Burnell
BBC News

Archbishop Patrick Kelly
Archbishop Patrick Kelly welcomed the new pope "as a friend"
The beaming smiles and joyful tears said it all as a small but fervent flock scurried into Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral for a Mass celebrating the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.

Some had come straight from work, skipping their supper, while others rushed from churches where they had been praying for a new pope.

The appearance of the new Pope on the balcony at St Peter's just after 1740 BST had led to a hastily arranged Mass just under two hours later.

Outside gloomy rain clouds gathered but inside there was a delighted air of thanksgiving as the congregation knelt to pray for the man whose predecessor had visited the cathedral nearly 23 years ago.

Just over two weeks earlier they had gathered to mourn their beloved John Paul II with all the pomp and ceremony of a High Mass.

This time they came to rejoice at a simpler Mass.

I think it is wonderful
Wenny Mendonza

A huge tapestry commemorating John Paul II's 1982 visit dwarfed the Archbishop of Liverpool and his small coterie of priests at the altar.

And for those who came to pray this was a day to match the rejoicing of the Papal Visit.

"I'm over the moon. He's a man with a great devotion to Our Lady who will take a strong line and be a great Pope," said Stephen Burke, from Wirral.

His wife Pauline added: "It's just amazing he's so like John Paul II. He's such a humble man - his books are remarkable."

Sister Pauline Gaughan
Blessed be God
Sister Pauline Gaughan
Student Sarah Dean, 19, from Essex, came to the cathedral vowing to see the new Pope when he leads the Catholic Church's World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne in August.

"I think he will be a great pope for the youth just like Pope John Paul II," she said.

"I think it's wonderful," said another overjoyed worshipper Wenny Mendonza, from Liverpool.

She said the late Pope had pointed the way to who he wanted to follow him in both his will and the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger had preached at his funeral.

"This is an answer to the prayers that our Holy Father Pope John Paul II asked us for in his will - now we have to pray even more because we are in very difficult times," she said.

It's just amazing he's so like John Paul II
Pauline Burke (right)

Her sister Gracy added: "Heaven and earth are rejoicing."

Liverpool-based nun Sister Pauline Gaughan summed up the mood of those who had gathered at such short notice: "I just say Blessed Be God. All that matters is God's will."

A thrilled Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool told the congregation last time he was introduced Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome, the cardinal said: "I know the Archbishop of Liverpool.

"So he does," said the archbishop, "which means we welcome him as a friend."

A grateful congregation said amen to that.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Catholics in the UK give their reaction



SEE ALSO:
Mass to welcome Pope Benedict XVI
19 Apr 05 |  Merseyside


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