“Half of us are old and I like to think of old age as the seat of wisdom in life,” said Pope Francis.
He compared old people’s wisdom to that of the Bible’s Simeon and Anna, which allowed them to recognize Jesus.
“I remember what a German poet said about aging, ‘old age is a time of peace and prayer,’” he said in reference to his favorite poet, Friedrich Hölderlin.
But Pope Francis’ addressed the cardinals as “brother cardinals” instead of “Lord cardinals,” something unusual for a Pope to do, according to the Vatican’s press office director, Father Federico Lombardi.
Pope Francis, who was elected on March 13, told the cardinals that the Holy Spirit is “a paraclete” and that he “creates all the differences in the Church and seems like an apostle of Babel.”
“On the other hand, the Paraclete unifies all these differences, not making them equal but in harmony with one another,” he explained.
He also thanked the cardinals for their service to the Church in recent days and informed them that Cardinal Jorge M. Mejía, who suffered a heart attack on the day of the Pope’s election, is now in a stable condition.
The new Pope also noted that his predecessor Benedict XVI “enriched the Church with his teaching, goodness, guidance, faith, humility, and his meekness, which will remain the spiritual patrimony of all.”
“We feel that Benedict XVI lit a flame in the depth of our hearts, a flame that continues to burn because it will be fanned by his prayers that will continue to sustain the Church on its spiritual and missionary journey,” Pope Francis said.
“Our fervent prayer will always accompany him, our eternal memory, and affectionate gratitude,” he remarked.
The pontiff said the encounter was meant to be “the continuation of that intense ecclesial communion” experienced during this period.
He finished off the meeting by spending time greeting and speaking with each individual cardinal.