Pope Benedict XVI Says He Prayed Not To Be Elected

A day after reaching out to other Christians and to Jews in his installation Mass, Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Muslim community today, assuring them that the church wanted to continue building "bridges of friendship" that he said could foster peace in the world.

Benedict made the comments in a meeting with religious leaders who had attended his installation ceremony, saying he was particularly grateful that members of the Muslim community were present. He noted that the world was currently marked by conflicts, but said it longed for peace.

"I invite all of you, representatives of religious communities, to your followers and to all people who are looking for truth, to stay together as peace makers, with a reciprocal effort of understanding, love and respect," the Pope said. He then greeted members of various religious creeds, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Christian Orthodox priests.  Later, Benedict told an audience of German pilgrims that at one point during the conclave that elected him Pope, when he was garnering many votes during the balloting, he had prayed to God that he might be spared the job.

Speaking in his native German, Benedict told the audience that a cardinal slipped him a note of paper reminding him what he had preached about Christ calling Peter to follow him even if he didn't want to go.

Benedict, 78, said he had hoped to spend his last years living quietly and peacefully. Benedict was interrupted several times by applause and cheering, and he seemed to enjoy the welcome from his fellow countrymen, smiling and chuckling occasionally.