John Paul II's Presence Still Felt at Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI (search) won rousing applause when he borrowed some of his predecessor's most popular sound bites. Pilgrims snapped up postcards with the late pontiff's image. Polish flags appeared to outnumber German banners in packed St. Peter's Square (search).

Some in the crowd of 350,000 on Sunday were torn between joy at welcoming their new pope and sadness that Pope John Paul II (search), the man who guided them in their faith for 26 years, had finished his earthly journey.

"There's pain on one side and joy on the other," said Grazyna Klimowicz, who led a pilgrimage of fellow Poles to pay tribute to John Paul in the grottoes under St. Peter's Basilica and to cheer on Benedict at Sunday's Mass.

The new pope from Germany has repeatedly signaled that he also cherishes John Paul, having served at his side as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's theological watchdog, for most of the Polish-born pontiff's papacy.

When he led John Paul's funeral on April 8, Ratzinger assured mourners that the late pope was benevolently watching them from heaven.

On Sunday, Benedict again struck a sentimental note, invoking John Paul's words from his 1978 inauguration — "Do not be afraid" — and directing them to young people in Sunday's homily.

He then echoed another John Paul sound bite, that young people should "open wide the doors" to Christ.

From the first hours after John Paul's death, several cardinals and many rank-and-file Catholics have hailed him as a "saint." Benedict appeared to both acknowledge this popular acclaim and the bewilderment of Catholics after the third-longest pontificate in history.

"How alone we all felt after the passing of John Paul II, the pope who for over 26 years had been our shepherd and guide on the journey through life," the new pope said.

Saying that "the saints from every age" are John Paul's "friends," Benedict offered another crowd-pleaser: "Now we know that he is among his own and is truly at home."

Photos of John Paul were selling briskly at shops and stalls near the square.

Antonietta Pezzulla bought a pack of postcards with images of John Paul for her three children, now in their 30s. They didn't want any souvenirs of Benedict, she said.

"My children grew up with the old pope and they are attached to him," said the homemaker from southern Italy.

Rosa Napoli, who traveled from Sicily, said she doesn't feel for the new pope the affection she had for the last one.

"I'm a believer. But I admit that Benedict isn't as charismatic as the other one. I was in love with the last one," said Napoli.

John Paul, who was 84 when he died, was affectionately embraced like a grandfather by many admirers. Benedict, with his precise language and serious gaze, cuts a professorial figure.

As the Vatican's enforcer of church teachings, Ratzinger earned a reputation as a cold-hearted silencer of dissidents. But his moving speech at the funeral and his other fond references to John Paul seem to be softening his image.

At the end of the ceremony, Benedict was driven around in an open-topped white vehicle, similar to the one John Paul rode in when he was shot in a 1981 assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square.

Standing up and smiling at the faithful, Benedict, 78, appeared vigorous when compared to John Paul in his last years.

Poland's president Aleksander Kwasniewski told reporters he used the 35 seconds that VIPs were each allotted to greet the pope to invite him to Poland.

"It was a chance to congratulate him, to tell him that Poland wishes him well ... and that we are happy his pontificate refers to John Paul II," Kwasniewski said.

Benedict, he said, thanked Poland for the "great" John Paul.