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Never be discouraged, Pope Francis urges cardinals

Catholic World News - March 15, 2013

“Let us never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us every day,” Pope Francis said as he met on March 15 with all the members of the College of Cardinals, in the Clementine Hall of the apostolic palace.

Pessimism should never afflict those who have confidence that the Holy Spirit will always guide the Church, the new Pope said. “The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the deep needs of human existence.”

In his address to the cardinals, in which he added extemporaneous comments to a prepared text, Pope Francis light-heartedly that he was not addressing a youthful audience. “Probably half of us are in our old age,” he observed. But as old age brings wisdom, he encouraged the cardinals to “give wisdom to the youth: like good wine that improves with age, let us give the youth the wisdom of our lives.”

The Pope’s comments on old age nearly took on an extra importance when he stumbled—apparently tripping over his robe—as he rose to greet the cardinals. But he recovered his balance with a wry smile.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, greeted the Pontiff, assuring him that “all of us, your cardinals, are at your full disposal.” In his address the Pope thanked Cardinal Sodano for his sentiments, and also offered special thanks to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone for his work as camerlengo during the sede vacante period, and to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, “who was our boss in the conclave” as the senior cardinal present.

Pope Francis went on to express his “great affection and deep gratitude for my venerable predecessor, Benedict XVI. He said that Benedict had “lit a flame in the depths of our hearts that will continue to burn because it is fueled by his prayers that will support the Church on its missionary path."

The Pope spoke to the cardinals about their shared experience in the conclave that had just concluded, at which “we have prayed together, sharing our fraternal feelings, our experiences and reflections.” It was appropriate that the cardinals formed stronger bonds during the conclave, he said, “because we are brothers.”

The Pope concluded his talk by encouraging the cardinals to bring the prayerful spirit of the conclave back to their own dioceses: “Now return to your sees to continue your ministry enriched by the experience of these days that have been so full of faith and ecclesial communion.”

After his remarks, Pope Francis greeted the cardinals individually, spending a few moments in conversation with each prelate.

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