Churches celebrate new pope

On the day Pope Benedict XVI presided over his first Mass as pope in Rome, churches near Marquette's campus and in Milwaukee used their Sunday services to celebrate his assumption to the papacy.

Marquette President the Rev. Robert A. Wild presided over the University Ministry 4 p.m. Mass at Gesu Church. Wild feted Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's election to the papacy.

"It's a momentous occasion," Wild said of the installation of the new pope. "It's been 26 years since we've had this celebration."

Wild used his homily to speculate on the future of the new pope. He addressed the mixed reactions to the installation of the conservative cardinal to the papacy and pondered what Benedict XVI's time in the Vatican has in store.

"Immediately, there were very clear reactions: some were happy and some were devastated," he said. "We don't know exactly what this new pope will bring about. But we do know … that the church, our church, lives. And it is alive because Christ Jesus is alive."

Wild ended his sermon on a forward-looking note.

"It is an act of faith to accept this man," Wild said. "We pray that he may guide us and lead us forward."

Later, the cantor asked those assembled to pray for the new pope, whom he called "a servant in the vineyard of the Lord."

At the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 812 N. Jackson St., Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan presided over a Mass dedicated to the new pope. Preceded by seven members of the Christian charity society Knights of Columbus in full regalia — which includes feathered hats, capes and scabbards — Dolan made his way through a standing-room-only crowd lit by candlelight and perfumed with incense. Also attending the Mass were Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, and Monsignor Kevin Irwin, a theologian with the Catholic University of America.

Like Wild, Dolan dedicated his homily to Benedict XVI.

"We rejoice and thank God for our new Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI," he said.

Dolan spent the bulk of his time at the pulpit discussing the significance of the name Benedict.

"What's in a name?" he said. "Well, a lot, especially with the pope."

The name Benedict comes from the Latin meaning "to speak beautifully" or "to bless," Dolan said.

"That's the mission statement of a pope — to bless us" and "call from the world what is most blessed and sacred."

Dolan speculated Ratzinger took the name Benedict in reference to the 15th century St. Benedict and Pope Benedict XV. He postulated that Benedict XVI sought to set an agenda with an emphasis on unity and peace.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on April 26 2005.