Cardinal Ratzinger is new Pope

news: Cardinal Ratzinger is new Pope

Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez of Chile made the announcement to a cheering crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday evening following two days of deliberations. Ratzinger, the new head of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, then appeared on the balcony of the Vatican Basilica to greet pilgrims and deliver his first papal blessing. Earlier, white smoke rose from a Sistine Chapel chimney, signalling that the cardinals had made a decision. Suspense mounted as the crowds waited for the symbolic ringing of bells, at which point onlookers started cheering.

In a short address to the crowds below Ratzinger paid homage to his predecessor and great friend, Pope John Paul II. “Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard,” he said. “The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me. Above all, I entrust myself to your prayers,” he added. Clad in white papal vestments and a short red cape, he then delivered the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to Rome and the world.

Ratzinger needed two-thirds of the 115 votes to be selected. Cardinals from 52 countries had gathered in Rome to vote for John Paul’s successor. Known collectively as the College of Cardinals, they met behind closed doors in a centuries-old ritual known as a conclave, a meeting conducted in absolute secrecy. They began voting on Monday after a nine-day period of mourning for John Paul.

Uncompromising stance

Cardinal Ratzinger was born into a traditional Bavarian farming family on 16 April 1927. His father was a policeman. His studies were interrupted during the war when he was drafted into an anti-aircraft unit in Munich. His supporters say his experiences under the Nazi regime convinced him that the church had to fight for truth and freedom. Ratzinger was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. He then spent several years teaching theology. In 1977, he was appointed bishop of Munich and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

Ratzinger has his critics within the church who say he has tried to suppress discussion. Wolfgang Cooper, a commentator on religious affairs in Germany, said before his election that the cardinal could become a divisive figure. “I think if Cardinal Ratzinger was pope, a large distance could grow between the leadership of the Church and the faith,” he predicted.

For more than 20 years Cardinal Ratzinger has been head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s guardian of orthodoxy, and has supported some uncompromising political positions. He called for pro-abortion politicians to be denied communion during the recent US election campaign and has voiced his opposition to Turkey’s possible entry into the European Union. In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind a conservative backlash against advocates of religious pluralism, homosexual rights and the ordination of women. “Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labelled today as fundamentalism,” Ratzinger once said in defence of his views.

Ratzinger also served as John Paul II’s chief theological adviser. As a young priest he was on the progressive side of theological debates but shifted to the right after the student revolutions of 1968. The eighth German to become Pope and the oldest for more than a century, he speaks 10 languages and is said to be an accomplished pianist with a preference for Beethoven.

Religious and political leaders hail new election

Britain’s Catholics marked the election of Pope Benedict XVI with a special thanksgiving service at London’s Westminster Cathedral. Liverpool’s Catholics also celebrated the occasion with Archbishop Patrick Kelly giving a service in the city’s cathedral. Simon Caldwell of Britain’s Catholic Herald newspaper praised the election of Ratzinger. “He is a very clever man, a great intellect and was very, very close to John Paul II. The one thing this pontiff will represent is continuity,” he said. Archbishop Sean Brady, head of the Catholic church in Ireland, said Cardinal Ratzinger was a man of ability with “great simplicity of life”.

Leaders of the UK’s other religious communities also welcomed the new Pope’s appointment. Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, said the appointment was of “great significance to Christians everywhere”. Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks said he hoped the new Pope would continue to work at improving relations between Christianity and Judaism.

In Portugal President Sampaio said he expected that Ratzinger’s elevation would bring “an auspicious contribution towards peace, dialogue and harmony”. The bishop of Leiria-Fátima, D. Serafim Ferreira e Silva, paid tribute to the new Pope’s “intellectual capacity” and said he believed that Ratzinger would “develop new fields of endeavour” for the Catholic Church. “I am convinced that he will be a great Pope,” he added.

The President of the European Commission, former Prime Minister of Portugal, Durão Barroso, said he welcomed the appointment. “In the name of the European Commission I would like to express my deepest hope that a long and happy reign as pontiff permits Your Holiness to work for dialogue between religions and for universal values as well as the defence of human rights and human dignity,” Barroso wrote in a letter to the new Pope.

News of the new Pope was received after the newspaper had been sent to the printer, therefore other commentary in this edition may contain information that does not reflect this news.