German cardinal JosephRatzinger elected pope

19th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

19 April 2005, VATICAN CITY - Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected pope and assumed the name of Benedict XVI on Tuesday at the end of one of the shortest and most international conclaves in history. The 78-year-old cardinal was a close advisor to his predecessor, Polish-born John Paul II, and it was to him that his first words as pope were devoted upon appearing at the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. "Dear brothers and sisters, after the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have chosen me, a

19 April 2005

VATICAN CITY - Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected pope and assumed the name of Benedict XVI on Tuesday at the end of one of the shortest and most international conclaves in history.

The 78-year-old cardinal was a close advisor to his predecessor, Polish-born John Paul II, and it was to him that his first words as pope were devoted upon appearing at the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

"Dear brothers and sisters, after the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have chosen me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord," Pope Benedict XVI told a cheering crowd of at least 100,000 gathered below.

"I take comfort in the fact that the Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments. And, above all, I entrust myself to your prayers," the pope said before imparting the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing (to the city and the world).

Below, applause and shouts of approval greeted the time-honoured announcement: "Nuntio Vobis Gaudium Magnum, Habemus Papam ..." (I announce a great joy to you all: We have a Pope ...)

Ratzinger is the eighth German to become pope in the 2,000-year- old history of the Roman Catholic Church and the second non-Italian in nearly 500 years.

He is also the oldest cardinal to have been elected pope in 100 years and some suggest this may indicate a desire for a "caretaker" pope following the 26-year-long pontificate of John Paul II, the third-longest in church history.

The 264th successor of St. Peter was picked on only the second day of the conclave, suggesting unity among the 115 cardinal electors.

The new pope will celebrate his inaugural mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, the Vatican said.

His first trip abroad will probably be to Cologne, Germany, in August, for a Catholic World Youth Day that his predecessor had hoped to attend, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

The last pontiff to take the name of Benedict was Italian-born Benedict XV, who was elected pope just after the outbreak of the First World War and who led the church until 1922.

Earlier, applause and cheers had erupted in St. Peter's Square as white smoke billowed out of a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel to signal that a pope had been chosen.

However, confusion reigned for a short period as the world waited for the bells of St. Peter's Basilica to toll as official confirmation that a new pope had been elected.

Minutes later the bells rang out across the city, irrefutable proof that a new Bishop of Rome had been chosen.

The papal election came during the third round of voting by a thoroughly international conclave composed of cardinals from 52 different countries.

Ratzinger was not a surprise choice as Vatican experts had frequently tipped him as a frontrunner. No details of the conclave are made public, but it is thought that his candidature had been promoted by the more conservative wing of the church.

An accomplished speaker and incisive thinker, Ratzinger is considered a hardliner. He led the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a church body formerly known as the Inquisition, for a quarter of a century, refusing to give in to reformists who wanted him to water-down church orthodoxy.

As dean of the College of Cardinals, he not only presided over the funeral of the late Pope John Paul II but also chaired the conclave.

Many had interpreted the homily he delivered in St. Peter's Basilica on Monday, just hours before cardinals were to sequester themselves inside the Sistine Chapel, as a sort of political manifesto and a signal that he would not be turning down the post, if elected.

In his homily, he warned his fellow cardinals not to entrust the church to the hands of an adventurous captain.

The church, he said, must resist the "tides of trends and the latest novelties".

"We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith," he said.

Ratzinger is not without critics: Opponents see him as an ultra- conservative who is not inclined to reform and who sees women as mothers and divorcees as sinners.

The new pope will have to face a number of problems, including a steady decline in the number of churchgoers and priests in the world's richest nations, growing disobedience to church teaching on matters of sex and celibacy, as well as frustration with its old-fashioned views on women.

News of Ratzinger's election was welcomed across the world, particularly in his homeland of Germany.

German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder hailed the election as "a great honour for our entire nation" as the new pope's Bavarian hometown of Marktl was preparing to party into the night.

In New York, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan described Ratzinger as a man with "a wealth of experience" sharing the UN's goals for peace, social justice and religious freedom.

There was disappointment in Latin America, however, as many had expected the next pope to come from a continent that is home to half of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

Born on 16 April 1927, Ratzinger grew up in wartime Germany and has described in autobiographical writings how he was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a schoolboy seminarian.

Late in the war he was drafted into an anti-aircraft battery.

A prolific author, he has devoted much of his life to writing, first research papers in academic theology and later Vatican documents, but has also published his memoirs. His election to the papacy, late in life, means his biography starts all over again.

DPA

Subject: German news

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