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German cardinal elected new pope

Ratzinger to be known as Benedict XVI

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 Posted: 2:30 AM EDT (0630 GMT)
 

VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Wearing traditional papal robes and a large smile, Joseph Ratzinger of Germany appeared Tuesday on a Vatican balcony as the 265th pontiff, Benedict XVI, as tens of thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square to cheer him.

"Dear brothers and sisters, after our great pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard," according to a translation of remarks he made in Italian. "I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers.

"In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help. And Mary, his most beloved mother, stands on our side."

He then delivered his first "Urbi et Orbi" ("for the city and for the world") papal blessing, after which the crowd in St. Peter's Square chanted, "Viva il papa," or "Long live the pope."

Benedict XVI will dine and spend Tuesday evening with the cardinals in their Santa Martia residence, said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

He will give Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 9 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) Wednesday, Navarro-Valls said.

In Ratzinger's hometown of Traunstein, Germany, seminary students happily reacted to the news, according to The Associated Press. (Full story)

But not everyone was enthralled with the selection.

"It seems that he is too conservative. Hopefully the Holy Spirit can help him change," Jurandir Arauj of the National Conference of Bishops Afro-Brazilian Section told Reuters. (More reaction)

Powerful figure in Vatican

Once the archbishop of Munich, Germany, and for many years prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Ratzinger has been one of the most powerful men in the Vatican and is widely acknowledged as a leading theologian.

Ratzinger, who turned 78 on Saturday, was John Paul II's chief theological adviser for 20 years.

As a young priest he was on the progressive side of theological debates but shifted to the right after the student revolutions of 1968.

In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination.

The dean of the College of Cardinals since November 2002, he was elevated to cardinal by Pope Paul VI in June 1977. (Profile)

On Tuesday, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez announced Benedict XVI's election in the traditional Latin, but he prefaced it by saying the words "brothers and sisters" in several languages, an introduction that is likely a bow to the universality of the Roman Catholic Church and its 1.1 billion members.

Warning against 'relativism'

There had been a great deal of speculation about who would be chosen to succeed John Paul II, who died April 2 at 84.

John Paul was widely credited with extending the reach of the papacy. He spoke more than a dozen languages and set an unprecedented pattern of pastoral travel, drawing huge crowds all over the world.

He was also strictly traditional on issues of sexuality and the role of women in the church, which won him support among some Catholics but alienated others. Similar disagreement exists over the next pontiff's stances on issues such as birth control, stem cell research and the ordination of female priests.

Benedict XVI, however, has been critical of progressive Catholicism. In a homily delivered at a Mass before the cardinals began the conclave Monday, he warned against "relativism, which is letting oneself be 'swept along by every wind of teaching.' [It] looks like the only attitude [acceptable] to today's standards. We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism, which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires."

White smoke, bells

White smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel chimney gave the first indication that the cardinals had chosen a pope.

The crowd clapped and waved flags as the smoke billowed over Vatican City about 5:50 p.m. (11:50 a.m. ET). Suspense built for the next 10 minutes as pilgrims waited for the ringing of bells -- at which point the onlookers let out a roar of jubilation.

Pope John Paul II had decreed that white smoke be accompanied by the ringing of bells, to avoid a repeat of the confusion after his election in 1978.

Chemicals were added to the ballots to turn the smoke white or black.

The conclave of 115 cardinals had voted three times previously -- once Monday night and twice Tuesday morning -- before selecting the new pope.

 

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