Pope Francis warns that pessimism must be avoided

Vatican City, Mar 15 (EFE).- Pope Francis said Friday in his meeting with the cardinals that they must avoid pessimism and find the courage every day to spread the Gospel to all corners of the earth.

"Our mission is to bring Jesus to man and bring man to know the Jesus who is truly present in our church. We must never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness the devil offers us every day. There is no room for pessimism or discouragement," the pope said in the Vatican's Clementine Hall.

"The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to persevere with new methods of evangelism to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth," the new pontiff said.

Francis, who nearly fell at one point while going to greet the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, said that Christian reality is "attractive and persuasive."

Looking at the cardinals, the 76-year-old Argentine noted that more than half the group are elderly, but added that age brings wisdom.

"Let us pass this wisdom on to the young, like a good wine that improves with age," he said.

Francis repeated the need for unity in the church and said he was moved by the reception offered him by the faithful Wednesday night when he appeared for the first time on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

He also had words for Benedict XVI, "my venerable predecessor," who he said "has enriched the church with his teachings of faith, humility and obedience."

The new pope also noted Benedict XVI's "courageous and humble gesture," a reference to his resignation.

Francis was greeted with resounding applause by the cardinals and he in turn greeted each of them individually in an atmosphere of joy and laughter.