Statement by Ambassador Hans-Heinrich Wrede Chairman of the Executive Board on the occasion of the election of Pope Benedict XVI in the Plenary Meeting of the Executive BoardIt is my great privilege and genuine pleasure to express, on behalf of the Executive Board, to the distinguished Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO, our dear colleague and friend Monseigneur Francesco Follo, our most heartfelt congratulations on the election of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
Yesterday evening, on St. Peter’s Square in Rome, a young woman – joined in joy by thousands of people – exclaimed “è bianca” – it’s white! That is, the white smoke gave the good news : the new Pope has been elected.
The late great Pope John Paul II had given the following advice to the Cardinals on whom to elect as his successor : the person “most suited to govern the Church in a fruitful and beneficial way”. We can be certain that Pope Benedict XVI will also become a great leader of his Church. As he has chosen the name Benedict, one cannot but be reminded of the last Pope with the same name : Pope Benedict XV, who was a genuine Pope of peace, leaving in the year of death, 1922, the legacy : “We do want to sacrifice our life for peace in the world.”
Pope Benedict XVI surely knows the advice given by Bernard de Clairvaux more than eight centuries ago to the Pope of that time, and I may quote from it in the original Latin : “Praesis ut prosis, ne ut imperes”. That means, in an approximate translation : You are presiding in order to be useful, not in order to command.
We do know that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is fully committed to dialogue and mutual understanding, to an honest dialogue based on respect and the recognition of each other’s beliefs and convictions. This Organization is equally dedicated to a culture of peace and dialogue among all civilizations and religions.
Through you, Monseigneur, may we convey to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, our best wishes for the successful accomplishment of his high duties and most heavy responsibilities.
And, once more, our sincere congratulations to the Catholic Church and to all its faithful!