John Paul II Aims to Stay at His Post

First Public Appearance After Spiritual Exercises

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In his first public appearance in a week, John Paul II emerged from his spiritual retreat expressing his intention to continue in his Petrine ministry.



Reading his Angelus message today from the window of his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square, the Pope stated his commitment to be of "service to the unity of the Church." A day earlier he finished the Spiritual Exercises, along with members of the Roman Curia.

After recalling the risen Jesus' words to Peter, "Feed my sheep," the Holy Father said: "I feel this invitation of Jesus particularly alive in my spirit, when I contemplate the Eucharistic mystery."

"The Eucharist is the source from which communion, among the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, always draws new vigor," he added. "It is in this perspective that the peculiar task entrusted to Peter and his successors becomes fully evident: The Petrine ministry is essentially service to the unity of the Church."

"'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,'" the Pope continued, quoting Matthew 16:18.

"This promise of the Lord is echoed in his other comforting words: 'I have prayed for you [Simon], that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren,'" he added.

The Pope prayed for "the whole People of God in this Lenten journey toward Easter."

Last Sunday, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of Vatican Secretariat of State, read the Angelus message for the Pope as he was still recovering from the flu.

The Holy Father did not hold any public audiences last week during his retreat.