Acknowledging his lack of Vatican expertise, Pope John Paul I told a gathering of cardinals yesterday that he will become the pupil of experienced church officials, learning how to "carry the cross" of managing the Roman Catholic Church.
The Pope also confirmed arrangements of the late Pope Paul VI for the Latin American bishops conference at Puebla, Mexico, but did not say whether he would attend it.
John Paul confirmed the Oct. 12-28 dates set by Paul, who died Aug. 6. He kept Sebastiano Cardinal Baggio of Italy, Aloisio Cardinal Lorscheider of Brazil and Bishop Ernesto Corripio Ahumada of Mexico as presiding officers, and confirmed Archbishop Alfonso Lopez Trijillo of Columbia as secretary general.
In his speech to the Cardinals, the new pontiff indicated that he will try to follow a middle course between those who seek more local autonomy for bishops and those who advise strict adherence to papal directives.
The Pope said it was "no problem" for him to recognize his lack of experience in dealing with the Roman Curia, the backbone of the church administration.
During most of his religious career, John Paul worked as a local-level priest, educator and bishop. He is the first pope elected in 75 years without a background in the church's diplomatic corps or as a member of the Curia.
John Paul, who was elected by the conclave of cardinals last Saturday, joked that he knew "only the pontifical yearbook," the Who's Who listing of church officials.
"We plan, therefore, to treasure the suggestions that will come to us from our worthy co-workers," he said. "We will be placing ourselves, one might say, in the school of those who, through well-deserved experience and recognition in these matters of great importance, deserve our full trust and our appreciative recognition."
Vatican officials said the former Albino Cardinal Luciani of Venice won election as pope with many more required. John Paul said that the electoral support he drew "continues to surprise and confuse us."
The new pope said that Paul VI, once approached him for coming too seldom to meet him at the Vatican.
"I told him," John Paul said, "I'm very busy in Venice. Besides, I believes Your Holiness has plenty of troubles. I, thanks to God, don't have many. Therefore, I don't feel like adding afflictions to one who already is afflicted."
The new Pope will be formally installed Sunday at a Mass consecrating his pontificate.