Image: Pope Benedict XVI
Plinio Lepri  /  AP
Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he makes the first appearance of his papacy at the window of his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, for the Sunday Angelus prayer.
updated 5/1/2005 11:59:39 AM ET 2005-05-01T15:59:39

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday made the first window appearance of his papacy, saying he was keeping up the popular tradition of his “beloved” predecessor, John Paul II, who last appeared to crowds from his window in silent suffering.

With tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square below, Benedict stood at the window of the papal apartment, which he moved into a day earlier, blessed the crowd, wished Orthodox Christians a happy Easter and said he hoped efforts toward Christian unity would continue.

“I address you, my very dear brothers and sisters, for the first time from this window that the beloved figure of my predecessor made familiar to countless people in the entire world,” Benedict said, from the third-floor window of the apostolic palace.

“From Sunday to Sunday, John Paul II, faithful to an appointment which became a cherished habit, accompanied for more than a quarter-century, the history of the Church and of the world, and we continue to feel him closer to us than ever,” Benedict said to the cheering crowd.

'Path toward full unity'
John Paul died on April 2, three days after his last time at the window, a silent appearance in which he blessed the crowd. German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of John Paul’s closest aides, was elected pontiff on April 19.

Image: Pope Benedict XVI meets with cardinals
Pool via Getty Images
Pope Benedict XVI  meets members of the presidency of Latin America's cardinals at the Paul VI Hall studio on Thursday.

In the 15-minute appearance, Benedict, wearing a white cassock, issued a call for continued efforts to bridge the gap between Catholics and Orthodox.

Saying he was wishing from his heart a happy Easter to Orthodox Christians who celebrate the holiday this Sunday, Benedict said that God “is asking us to travel with decision down the path toward full unity.”

John Paul had made better relations with the Orthodox a main goal of his 26-year-long papacy.

Like John Paul, Benedict used the window appearance to talk about current problems on the world scene.

After saying he was dismayed by “wars, poverty and illness” in the world, Benedict singled out the African nation of Togo. He expressed closeness to Togo’s people, “upset by painful internal struggle,” and said he was praying for “harmony and peace.”

After greeting pilgrims in Italian and Spanish, Benedict raised his arms in greeting several times and offered his blessing.

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