Pope Benedict XVI reappointed the entire Vatican hierarchy from the last papacy as he moved ahead Thursday with his smooth transition into the church leadership and showed increasing signs he is not the aloof and dour prelate many anticipated.
He waved and smiled at crowds gathered along the short stretch between the Vatican gates and his old apartment, where he spent some time in the afternoon. Benedict has not yet moved into the papal residence overlooking St. Peter's Square, staying instead at the Vatican hotel where cardinals slept and dined during the conclave that elected him Tuesday.
"Viva il papa!" some shouted. The pope, dressed all in white, raised both hands in a greeting.
His upcoming schedule also shows hints of the openness and symbolic gestures that were at the heart of the John Paul II's reign: a meeting with journalists planned for today, an outdoor Mass to formally take the papal throne tomorrow and a visit the following day to a church built over the tomb of St. Paul -- an apostle who carries deep significance for Roman Catholics and Christian Orthodox.
In a sign that he also intends to continue in the steps of his predecessor in reaching out to other religions, Benedict invited the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, to his installation Mass, a spokesman for Rome's Jewish community said.
"The message that arrived brought with it surprise, pleasure and hope for the future," the spokesman, Riccardo Pacifici said. "Let's say that this is a good beginning."
But he said the rabbi would not attend the installation, which falls on the first day of Passover, "obviously not as an act of impoliteness, but to fulfill Jewish practices."
The Vatican unveiled its newest e-mail addresses -- firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com -- following an innovation started by John Paul.
In the first days of his papacy, Benedict has projected two clear styles. One was expected: the confident and well-prepared Vatican insider who was one of John Paul's closest advisers for more than two decades. His decisions on the top-level posts came quickly -- some popes have struggled for weeks.
There were no changes in any major Vatican office all the way up to the No. 2 slot, the secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The only question remains who will fill the powerful job the pontiff held since 1981: overseeing church doctrine and punishing those who stray.
The second image emerging -- a humble and welcoming pastor -- has caught many off guard.
The pontiff's name, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, became synonymous among Catholics with the church's strictest factions and earned him nicknames that played off his German background such as "God's rottweiler." But top prelates and other church experts say it was an unfair reputation.
All agree that he is strongly rooted in church traditions and inflexible on high-profile issues such as the church's bans on contraception and women priests. But so was John Paul. The new pontiff may lack his charisma, but shares his sense of reaching out to the faithful, they say.
"He was a follower and servant of the late Pope John Paul II," Vatican-based Colombian Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said. "He is a simple man, serene, cordial, with a fine sense of humor and very kind ... No one has seen him in a moment of indisposition of rancor or intolerance. These are myths the press invented."
Anthony Figueiredo, a Rome-trained theologian at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, said the pontiff is making the needed transition from the rigid role of "defender of doctrine" to the world stage as "unifier and spiritual leader."
On Wednesday, with several nods to John Paul's groundbreaking papacy, Benedict sketched out some of his broad priorities, including "an open and sincere dialogue" with other faiths and trying to reverse the decline in church attendance and vocations in the West.
He also appears interested in picking up where John Paul left off with efforts to end the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with Orthodox churches, which separated over issues about papal authority and differences over the liturgy. One of the late pope's unfulfilled dreams was to visit Russia, the most populous Orthodox nation.