Novak (novak) wrote,

Theological Notebook: Stories from the Big Day, Pt. 4

This second set of articles includes chatty Cardinals, lots of people reacting, and a timeline of the life of Pope Benedict.

Cardinals Choose a Close Aide to John Paul II to Lead Church

April 19, 2005
and LAURIE GOODSTEIN for the New York Times

VATICAN CITY, April 19 - Roman Catholic cardinals on reached to the church's conservative wing today and chose as the 265th pope Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a seasoned and hard-line German theologian who served as John Paul II's defender of the faith.

At 5:50 p.m., wisps of white smoke puffed from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, where the cardinals were meeting, signaling that the new pope had been chosen only a day after the secret conclave began.

His name was not announced until nearly an hour later, after the great bell at St. Peter's tolled, with tension rising in the swelling crowd, until the scarlet curtain over the central balcony parted and a cardinal announced in Latin: "Habemus Papem!" or "We have a pope!"

"Dear brothers and sisters," he said in a clear voice, spreading his arms wide over the crowd, "after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard."

He announced his name as Benedict XVI.

The new pope, who was born in Marktl am Inn, Germany, and turned 78 on Saturday, was one of the closest collaborators of John Paul II. As the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he has been the church's doctrinal watchdog since 1981.

Benedict XVI is the first German pope in centuries. Benedict XV was an Italian who presided from 1914 to 1922 during World War I. A diplomat, his efforts to end the war were ignored by both sides, and the papacy was not invited to the peace conference.

The unusually brief conclave seemed to suggest that Cardinal Ratzinger was a popular choice inside the college of 115 cardinals who elected him, a man who shared - if at times went beyond - John Paul's conservative theology and seemed ready to take over the job after serving beside him for more than two decades.

It was not clear, however, how popular a choice he was on St. Peter's Square: The applause for the new pope, while genuine and sustained among many, tapered off decisively in large pockets, reflecting reservations about his doctrinal rigidity and about whether an already polarized church will now find less to bind it together.

His well-known stands include the assertion that Catholicism is the "truth" and other religions are "deficient"; the spiritual weakness of the modern, secular world; a sense that Catholicism is in competition with Islam; and opposition to homosexuality, women as priests and stem cell research.

"I kind of do think he will try to unite Catholics," said Linda Nguyen, 20, an American student studying in Rome who had wrapped her hand in six rosaries. "But he might scare people away."

Vincenzo Jammace, a teacher from Rome, stood below the balcony and said: "This is the gravest error."

But the cardinal's many supporters said they believed that the rule of Benedict XVI would be clear and uncompromising about what it means to be a Roman Catholic.

"It's not enough to believe in Jesus Christ - we need someone to follow," Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian academic and politician who was friends with John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger, said in the huge crowd. "He has experienced modernity and he is convinced that modernity is a problem and Jesus Christ is the answer. It's not that Christianity has a problem and modernity is the answer."

In making their choice, cardinals from 52 countries definitively answered several questions about the direction of the Roman Catholic church at the start of its third millennium.

They did not reach outside of Europe, perhaps to Latin America, to reflect the growth of the church there and in Asia and Africa. They did not return the job to an Italian; an Italian had held the papacy for 455 years before Karol Wojtyla was elected John Paul II in 1978.

John Paul was virtually unknown when he was selected, but the new pope's record is long and articulate in a prolific academic career before he became John Paul II's doctrinal watchdog in 1981.

In many ways, the cardinals picked John Paul's theological twin but his opposite in presence and personality. Where John Paul II was charismatic and tended to soften his rigid stands with warmth, the new Pope Benedict XVI is a less dynamic man - humble in private, his friends say - who pulls few punches in public about his strong beliefs.

In private, he is also known as a thoughtful thinker and shy, if not aloof. He is also an accomplished pianist, favoring Beethoven.

Whatever the future holds, the white smoke and the deeply resonating bell this evening were the signals thousands of people in St. Peter's Square had been waiting for.

Long streams of Romans hurried to the square and horns blared as people rushed to learn who had been selected. People cheered and clapped at seeing the white smoke and hearing the bell, signs that the Vatican had said would indicate that the new pope had been chosen.

There was a lag of several minutes between the appearance of a first wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and the ringing of the bell, adding to the uncertainty that many people waiting in the square had endured this morning, and also after the cardinals had started their conclave Monday afternoon, when there had been questions about the smoke's color. Black smoke indicates that no one has been selected.

But several minutes after the first wisps appeared this afternoon, the bells started to toll.

Of eight conclaves since 1903, only two previous ones had ended after two days, the last in 1978 when Cardinal Albino Luciani, patriarch of Venice, was chosen. He took the name John Paul I.

Cardinal Ratzinger had emerged as a front-runner in recent days, despite the misgivings of some about whether his orthodox approaches might further splinter church membership in western nations.

As an ultraconservative, he had shut the door on any discussion on several issues, including the ordination of women, celibacy of priests and homosexuality, defending his positions by invoking theological truth. In the name of orthodoxy, he is in favor of a smaller church, but one that is more ideologically pure.

On Monday, at a Mass before the conclave convened, he delivered an uncompromising warning against any deviation from traditional Catholic teaching.

Reaction to Cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope today ranged from hometown pride to reflections on where he will lead the church and its 1.1 billion members.

Almost immediately after the news was announced, crowds started gathering in Marktl am Inn, in Bavaria. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called it "a huge honor for Germany," and President Horst Koehler said "a compatriate pope filled us with a special kind of joy and a little bit of pride in Germany."

In the United States, a State Department spokesman, Adam Ereli, said America "welcomes the announcement."

"We look forward to working with His Holiness and the Holy See to build upon our already bilateral relationship and to promote human dignity across the world," Mr. Ereli said.

In New York City, 77-year-old Gloria Cummings said she was disappointed with the choice.

"I'm not happy because he's too conservative and old and I would like to see a younger and more liberal pope in there," Ms. Cummings told The Associated Press. "I fear the church won't progress and will just become staid. We need a change."

Mercedes Minota, a Spanish teacher, originally from Colombia, said she was not disappointed by the choice, but would have preferred a Spanish speaker like herself.

"We have so many wonderful Latin American cardinals," Ms. Minota said. "I was expecting a new Spanish pope."

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, applauded the selection.

"The new pope, like his predecessor, understands the grave danger that awaits a society wherein each individual makes up his own morality," he said in New York, The A.P. reported. "It may not sell in the U.S., but it is nonetheless true that a society that refuses to acknowledge that morality is a social attribute, not an individual one, is bound to culturally implode."

Bishop Kevin Dowling, a liberal Catholic who is vice chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, said that Catholics who favor orthodoxy will be pleased with the elevation of the new pope, though those who favor change may not be.

"For people who were looking for a church that would be open to debating and discussing and reflecting on some of the crucial issues of modern times in relation to the globalized world - poverty, injustice, homosexuality, the massive AIDS pandemic and the issue of protection of lives . . . these people may have concerns," Bishop Dowling said.

Some reform-minded American Catholic groups expressed cautious optimism about the choice.

"We recognize that Ratzinger is someone who is considered theologically and doctrinally conservative. But history has shown that the office transforms the individual," said Suzanne Morse, communications director for Voice of the Faithful, a 30,000 member group formed in the wake of the church's pedophilia scandals and which advocates a greater role for the laity in church governance. "You don't necessarily know what a pope is going to do based on their experiences as a cardinal,"

Ms. Morse noted that when the first allegations were made against priests, Mr. Ratzinger "seemed to think the problem was a media creation," she said. "But since then, we have seen small but significant signs that he has some sense of the scope of the clergy sexual abuse crisis."

Among other things, she said, the cardinal had been instrumental in reopening a church investigation against Father Marciel Maciel Degollado, a politically influential Mexican priest who was founder of the orthodox order Legionaries of Christ and has been accused of sexually abusing some former seminarians.

A. James McAdams, professor of international affairs at the University of Notre Dame, said American political categories like "liberal" and "conservative" did not necessarily apply to the cleavages within Catholic thought and practice.

"I think it is silly to portray Ratzinger as Darth Vader," he said. "This is the attempt simply to find categories."

At St. Patrick's Cathedral in midtown Manhattan, Robin Ward, a 55-year-old accountant said the election of a new pope with traditional values "sends a message."

"Continuity. Continuity is what they want," said Mr. Ward.

Alan Feuer, Christine Hauser, Timothy Williams and Nicholas Confessore contributed reporting for this article from New York and Michael Wines from Johannesburg. Judy Dempsey of The International Herald Tribune contributed reporting from Berlin.

Benedict Showed 2 Sides After Pope's Death

Apr 19, 7:35 PM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Two images of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stood in sharp relief during the mourning period for the pope he would eventually succeed. With his wispy silver hair blowing in the wind, the German prelate stood before the world's political and spiritual leaders at John Paul II's funeral April 8 and offered an eloquent, sensitive farewell that moved some to tears.

Ten days later - just before Ratzinger and 114 other cardinals entered the conclave to select the 265th pontiff - he delivered a sharp-edged homily on strict obedience to church teachings that left liberal Catholics wincing.

"He could be a wedge rather than a unifier for the church," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America.

This was clear in St. Peter's Square moments after the announcement of Ratzinger's election and the name chosen by the first Germanic pope in 1,000 years: Benedict XVI. Amid the applause were groans and pockets of stunned silence.

"It's Ratzinger," French pilgrim Silvie Genthial, 52, barked into her cellular phone before hanging up.

"We were all hoping for a different pope - a Latin American perhaps - but not an ultraconservative like this," she said.

But others hugged and toasted the new pope with red wine. "A clear and true voice of faith," said Maria Piscini, an 80-year-old Italian grandmother, raising a paper cup filled with pinot noir.

The cardinals who selected him knew it would be received this way.

Perhaps no member of the conclave evoked such potent opinions - and has stirred more arguments - as the 78-year-old Ratzinger and the role he's held since 1981: head of the powerful Vatican office that oversees doctrine and takes action against dissent.

"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," he said Monday in a pre-conclave Mass in memory of John Paul. The church, he insisted, must defend itself against threats such as "radical individualism" and "vague religious mysticism."

As prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, he was the Vatican's iron hand.

His interventions are a roll call of flashpoints for the church: the 1987 order stripping American theologian the Rev. Charles Curran of the right to teach because he encouraged dissent; crippling Latin Americans supporting the popular "liberation theology" movement for alleged Marxist leanings; coming down hard on efforts to rewrite Scriptures in gender inclusive language.

He also shows no flexibility on the church's views on priestly celibacy, contraception and the ban on ordinations for women.

In 1986, he denounced rock music as the "vehicle of anti-religion." In 1988, he dismissed anyone who tried to find "feminist" meanings in the Bible. Last year, he told American bishops that it was allowable to deny Communion to those who support such "manifest grave sin" as abortion and euthanasia.

He earned unflattering nicknames such as Panzercardinal, God's rottweiler, and the Grand Inquisitor. Cartoonists emphasized his deep-set eyes and Italians lampooned his pronounced German accent.

"Indeed, it would be hard to find a Catholic controversy in the past 20 years that did not somehow involve Joseph Ratzinger," John Allen, a Vatican reporter for the National Catholic Register, wrote six years ago.

But among conservatives, he rose in stature. An online fan club sings his praises and offers souvenirs with the slogan: "Putting the smackdown on heresy since 1981."

Even John Paul apparently needed him close by. Several times Ratzinger said he tendered his resignation because of his age, but each time it was rejected by the pope.

In recent years, he took on issues outside church doctrine. He once called Buddhism a religion for the self-indulgent. In an interview with the French magazine Le Figaro last year, he suggested Turkey's bid to join the Europe Union conflicted with Europe's Christian roots - a view that could unsettle Vatican attempts to improve relations with Muslims.

"Turkey has always represented a different continent, in permanent contrast to Europe," he was quoted as saying.

In a book released last week, "Values in a Time of Upheavals," Ratzinger also called demands for European "multiculturalism" as a "fleeing from what is one's own."

"If he continues as pope the way he was as a cardinal, I think we will see a polarized church," said David Gibson, a former Vatican Radio journalist and author of a book on trends in the church. "He has said himself that he wanted a smaller, but purer, church."

Critics complain Ratzinger embodies all the conservative instincts of the last papacy, but without John Paul's charisma and pastoral genius.

"I think this is the closest the church can come to human cloning," quipped Gibson.

It's a joke not too far off the mark.

Both John Paul II and his successor were forged by the horrors of World War II and advanced in the church in the shadow of the Iron Curtain. They also shared a deep drive to try to use Christianity as a grand unifier for the continent following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

But the Polish pontiff came from a nation that suffered greatly during the war. Ratzinger - like many from his generation - carries the burdens and ghosts of Germany's past.

Raised in the oak forest and pine foothills of Bavaria, he said he was enrolled in Hitler's Nazi youth movement against his will. At the same time, the policeman's son entered seminary studies in 1939 as a 12-year-old with "joy and great expectations," according to his memoirs.

He recalled being deeply moved by the rituals of the church, such as candlelight services and midnight Mass.

But in 1943, he was drafted as an assistant to a Nazi anti-aircraft unit in Munich. Later, he was shipped off to build tank barriers at the Austian-Hungarian border. He wrote that he escaped recruitment by the dreaded SS because he and others said they were training to be priests.

"We were sent out with mockery and verbal abuse," he wrote. "But these insults tasted wonderful because they freed us from the threat of that deceitful 'voluntary service' and all its consequences."

He deserted in April 1945 and returned home to Traunstein. It was a risky move, since deserters were shot or hanged. But the Third Reich was collapsing.

"The Americans finally arrived in our village," he wrote. "Even though our house lacked all comfort, they chose it as their headquarters."

Ratzinger was identified as a deserter and placed in prisoner of war camp near Ulm in southern Germany. He wrote that he could see the spires of the city's cathedral in the distance.

"It was, for me, like a consoling proclamation of the indescribable humaneness of faith," he wrote.

He and his older brother, Georg, were ordained in 1951. He taught theology and earned a reputation as a forward-looking prelate and took part in the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, a major attempt to modernize the faith.

His doctoral dissertation on the medieval theologian St. Bonaventure tried to draw attention to "dangerous relativism" - a message that he echoed at Mass on Monday.

He also tried to combine his belief in Christianity's ecumenical message with his views on the special role of Judaism.

"That the Jews are connected with God in a special way and that God does not want that bond to fail is entirely obvious," he wrote in his book, "God and the World," published in 2000. "We wait for the instant in which Israel will say 'yes' to Christ, but we know that it has a special mission in history now."

"First and foremost, he's a theologian. He's an intellectual," said the Rev. Martin Bialas, who has known Ratzinger for 35 years and was his student. "By nature, he's someone who prefers to stay in the background."

In 1977, Ratzinger was appointed bishop of Munich and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI. He was one of only two cardinals in the latest conclave that was not chosen by John Paul.

The name he took - Benedict - draws a connection to Benedict XV, the Italian pontiff from 1914 to 1922 who had the difficult task of providing leadership for Catholic countries on opposite sides of World War I. His declared neutrality, and his repeated protests against weapons like poison gas angered both sides.

Benedict was also known for reaching out to Muslims and for efforts to close the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with Christian Orthodox churches - a possible signal that this could be an important priority of the new papacy.

"The name Benedict XVI leaves the possibility open for a more moderate policy," said the Swiss theologian Hans Küng, whose license to teach theology was revoked by the Vatican in 1979. "Let us, therefore, give him a chance. As with the president of the USA, we should allow a new pope 100 days to learn."

But Küng already has formed his judgment: "An enormous disappointment for all those who hoped for a reformist and pastoral pope."

His first major test could be in August in his homeland. World Youth Day - a favorite event of John Paul - is scheduled in the city of Cologne and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of young Catholics.

"Pope John Paul II always said that we must have a new beginning, a new evangelization of Europe that will plant the seeds of belief in the hearts of people again," said Philip Hockerts, spokesman for the Regensburg diocese in southern Germany. "It could well be that (Benedict XVI) wants to carry forth this new evangelizing."

Newly elected Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd from a balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, who took the name of Benedict XVI, is the 265th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/ Pier Paolo Cito)

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elected Pope Benedict XVI

By Stacy Meichtry

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope of the Roman Catholic Church Tuesday after one of the briefest conclaves in modern history, suggesting the church will begin the third millennium with a strong embrace of strict doctrine.

The best-known cardinal in the world for his decades of service to John Paul II as his top theological advisor and for his pre-conclave prominence as dean of the College of Cardinals, Ratzinger took the name of Benedict XVI.

"Dear brothers and sisters. After the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the lord," Ratzinger told the thousands of faithful after appearing at the curtained balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Ratzinger's election came on the fourth ballot of the conclave of 115 cardinals that began Monday evening.

The first indication of Ratzinger's election came in the form of gray smoke that streamed from the Sistine Chapel's metal smokestack at 5:50 p.m., dispersing in steady winds. The mixed smoke signal initially created confusion in the square as crowds began to rush down Via della Conciliazione. But 10 minutes later the ambiguity melted away at the sound of the tolling "campanone" -- St. Peter's main bell, the other sign of papal election that Vatican officials added to the colored smoke as an auxiliary measure.

Thousands had flooded the square by the time the Senior Deacon of the College of Cardinals, Jorge Medina Estevez, appeared at the basilica balcony to announce "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam," Latin for "I announce a great joy to you; we have a pope!"

Ratzinger appeared moments later, clasping his hands and raising them to his head in a gesture of victory.

"The fact that the lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers," the new pope said.

With a pair of glasses perched on his nose and his freshly minted white cap blending into his snowy hair, the 78 year-old pope pronounced the traditional urbi et orbi blessing as the sun began to set behind St. Peter’s massive dome.

Some members of the crowd chanted "Benedict! Benedict!" Applause echoed through the square.

As a young priest, Ratzinger was on the progressive side of theological debates, and served at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as a peritus for reform-minded Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne, Germany. After the student revolutions of 1968, however, Ratzinger shifted to the right. 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 issues such as women's ordination.

This combative stance was on display Monday when Ratzinger delivered a forceful defense of church teaching during the Pro Eligendo Mass, hours before the cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel to begin the conclave.

"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," he told the cardinals, urging them to promote a "maturity of Christ" to protect the church from modern influence.

Ratzinger struck a similar note at an international conference on church music in 1986 when he described rock music as a "vehicle of anti-religion.''

The conclave's brevity surprised some commentators who doubted whether the 115 voting cardinals from 5 different continents could forge a consensus early on.

Italian Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli, 81, was on Italian state-television hours before Ratzinger’s election. Asked if he thought the conclave was nearing an end, he said: "I don't think so." He then added: "By now in conclaves we're getting used to surprises."

While Ratzinger's election surprised some, his selection was not entirely unexpected. The German emerged as a front-runner for the church's top job last week as speculation swirled through Rome that the conservative theologian was gaining support among cardinals aiming for doctrinal continuity with John Paul II. His election makes him the first German pontiff in over 1000 years. The last Germanic pope was Victor II, who led the Church from 1055-1057.

Ratzinger’s decision to take the name of Benedict XVI could be based on a number of historical factors. St. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe, a continent that has seen a sharp decline in church attendance under John Paul II. Ratzinger left Rome the night of before John Paul died to attend an award ceremony at a Benedictine monastery in Subiaco, Italy, where he was given the “St. Benedict Prize for the Promotion of Life and Family in Europe.”

Benedict XV, meanwhile, was the pope that presided over the church during World War I and authored the 1914 encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, which called a halt to infighting in the church.

In recent years, Ratzinger has expressed a need to reform the Church from the inside out. In a meditation Ratzinger prepared for the Way of the Cross at the Coliseum ceremony in March, he lashed out at the clergy and likened the church to a sinking ship.

"How much filth there is in the church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to (Christ)," he wrote.

"Lord, your church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side.

The boat metaphor reemerged during Monday’s Pro Eligendo Mass, when Ratzinger described the Church as as a “little boat of Christian thought” tossed by waves of “extreme” schools of modern thought, which he identified as Marxism, liberalism, libertinism, collectivism and “radical individualism.” Other dangers to the faith included “a vague religious mysticism,” “new sects,” and materialism.

The hard-line theologian began his apostolate career in 1977 when he was made archbishop of Munich and Freising. Three months later, Pope Paul VI elevated him to cardinal.

Ratzinger was invited to Rome in 1980 to head the Congregation for Catholic Education. He declined the invitation, saying he was not ready to leave Munich. A year later, Ratzinger arrived in Rome to take the reins of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Speaking from the White House, President George W. Bush described the newly elected pope a “man of great wisdom and knowledge” and a “man who serves the Lord.”

French President Jacques Chirac said France “will pursue the trusting dialogue that it has always had with the Holy See, in particular in the common fights for peace, justice, solidarity and the dignity of man.”

“What an enormous privilege it was to be a part of his election,” Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said in a statement following the conclave. “Since I've known Cardinal Ratzinger for many years, I was privileged to be able to greet an old friend as our new Holy Father.”

“We got our man!” John Paul Sonnen, 26, of Minneapolis, yelled. Upon learning of the smoke signal, Sonnen had stormed St. Peter’s Square carrying at 10-foot staff rigged with two flags—that of the Holy See and the Star Spangled Banner. He waved them manically when Ratzinger stepped onto the balcony, wearing an embroidered crimson mantle. “I’m just carrying the torch,” he said.

Khemais Ali, a Tunisian, was less enthusiastic. “It will be tough with Ratzinger. He’s not only German--he’s Bavarian,” Ali said, expressing concern over Ratzinger’s reputation as a rigorous doctrinaire. “In the 21st century, we can’t continue to keep people divided over the way they practice religion.”

Cristina Gianmetiasto, a communications major at Rome’s La Sapienza University, hadn’t made up her mind yet. “I don’t care that he’s not Italian,” she said. “But I hear he’s a bit of a reactionary, and this scares me.”

The pope spent his first night as the 265 pontiff dining with his fellow cardinals at the Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican hotel.

Stacy Meichtry is a freelance journalist based in Rome. He is reporting and writing for NCR during this period of papal transition.

Analysis: Church to Maintain Hard Line

Apr 19, 8:27 PM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - A day before he was elected pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made clear the type of church he wanted: one that rigidly maintained the doctrines he himself had upheld as guardian of church orthodoxy, where there were absolute truths on matters such as abortion, celibacy and homosexuality.

With his election Tuesday in one of the fastest papal votes in a century, Pope Benedict XVI will most certainly build upon the uncompromising hard line on doctrine that he charted under Pope John Paul II.

His election will thrill conservatives seeking a consolidation of John Paul's policies. It will alienate more liberal Catholics, particularly in Europe and North America, who had hoped that after 26 years, a more progressive pope might take the helm of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

And it will likely temper hopes around the world of improved relations with other religions.

"If he continues as pope the way he was as a cardinal, I think we will see a polarized church," said David Gibson, a former Vatican Radio reporter and author of "The Coming Catholic Church."

"He has said himself that he wanted a smaller but purer church," Gibson said, referring to Ratzinger's suggestion that Christianity may need to become smaller, in terms of its cultural significance, to remain true to itself.

As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981 and a close aide to John Paul, Ratzinger wielded enormous power in shaping church policy, silencing dissident theologians and signing off on virtually every document that had to do with doctrine.

During his tenure, the Vatican was uncompromising in its opposition to ordaining women, homosexuality and lifting the celibacy requirement for priests. Ratzinger opposed allowing remarried Catholics to receive Communion and told American bishops that it was appropriate to deny Communion to those who support a "manifest grave sin" such as abortion and euthanasia.

Those policies will continue under Benedict XVI, who in celebrating the pre-conclave Mass on Monday made clear that the next pope shouldn't bow to the "winds of doctrine" that tempted the faithful to stray from the core beliefs of the church.

"The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves, thrown from one extreme to the other," he said, listing Marxism, liberalism, atheism and relativism - the ideology that there are no absolute truths.

The homily was classic Ratzinger, and clear evidence that at least doctrinally, the church he will lead will not divert from current teaching.

"Obviously a majority of the cardinals agreed with the analysis that in order to consolidate John Paul's legacy, the final part had to be done," said John-Peter Pham, a former Vatican official and author on papal succession.

But the style of the Benedict XVI papacy will likely be vastly different from that of John Paul, the personable archbishop of Krakow, Poland, who trotted the globe and brought a movie-star quality to the papacy.

Most importantly, Ratzinger is 78 - two decades older than John Paul was when he was elected in 1978 - and his health last year was "not that good" according to the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Vatican expert. He gave no specifics.

As a result, Ratzinger's papacy will be viewed as a shorter, transitional one.

"In a few years, we could be right back where we were, with a sick, elderly even perhaps dying pope," Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly America magazine said in an interview before the election.

Ratzinger also lacks the pastoral qualities that made John Paul so beloved. He is a bookish theologian who surprised thousands by choking up as he delivered John Paul's funeral homily - a rare glimpse of emotion.

Even Ratzinger's brother, Georg, said his brother would be an "entirely different" pope than John Paul.

"They had a good relationship, but he (Ratzinger) wouldn't have the faculty to deal with people in such a direct and immediate way and to fascinate them," he told the German TV station RTL this week.

But Pham and other Vatican watchers also say that there is more to Ratzinger than the world has seen in the past two decades, noting his love of music - he is an accomplished pianist - and his solid credentials as a scholar.

Ratzinger's writings and comments give a hint about what his papacy will bring.

He has opposed Turkey's bid to join the European Union and dismissed demands for European "multiculturalism" as a "fleeing from what is one's own."

He has also made sure John Paul's efforts to reach out to other religions didn't overstep certain bounds. His 2000 decree "Dominus Iesus," which framed the role of the Catholic Church in human salvation in an exclusive manner, upset Protestants, Jews and other non-Christians.

Ratzinger further rankled other Christians when he said he didn't want Protestant churches referred to as "sister churches" by Catholics.

Ratzinger has written that Jews were "connected with God in a special way." But in his book "God and the World," he also said "We wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ."

He has spoken out positively about Islam, saying it has had "moments of great splendor."

While Ratzinger criticized the media for focusing too much on the sins of priests involved in the church sex abuse scandal, he excoriated the "filth" in the church in a meditation he penned for the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession.

Some Cardinals Get Chatty After Conclave

Apr 19, 7:07 PM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Whatever happened to the sacred oath of secrecy?

Cardinals were sworn to silence about everything that happened during deliberations in the Sistine Chapel to choose a new pope. But within hours of the conclave, some German cardinals - delighted about the choice of their countryman, Joseph Ratzinger - spilled some of the secrets.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner told reporters Tuesday night that the new Pope Benedict XVI was elected on the fourth ballot - the first of the afternoon session. He added that Ratzinger got more than the required two-thirds support.

"It was done without an electoral battle, and without propaganda," the archbishop of Cologne told reporters at a residence for German priests in Vatican City. "For me it was a miracle."

There was spontaneous applause as soon as cardinals realized Ratzinger had won, Meisner said.

"And I burst out crying," he added.

Meisner and three other German cardinals spent about 45 minutes answering questions about the conclave and didn't seem worried about commenting despite their vow of silence - which Ratzinger led himself, as dean of the College of Cardinals, when the conclave began Monday.

One by one, cardinals filed up to a Book of the Gospels and placed their right hands on it. Ratzinger's admonition read, in part: "We promise and swear not to break this secret in any way..." To guard against high-tech leaks by cellular phones, there were even electronic jamming devices under a false floor in the chapel.

One query the cardinals wouldn't answer is exactly how many votes Ratzinger garnered.

"We've already said enough," said Cardinal Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky, the archbishop of Berlin.

Meisner gave a few clues about the new pope's emotional reaction on being named. He said Benedict XVI looked "a little forlorn" when he went to change into his papal vestments in the Room of Tears - which earned its nickname because many new pontiffs get choked up there, realizing the enormity of their mission.

"I was worried, because when he came back dressed in his white vestments, I thought he had forgotten his skullcap," Meisner said. "But then I realized his hair is as white as his skullcap."

Meisner added: "By the time dinner came around, Ratzinger was looking much better and very much like the pope."

The new pope asked cardinals to dine together on bean soup, cold cuts, a salad and fruit, Meisner said. The nuns who prepare their meals didn't have time to plan a special menu, so there were only two special treats - ice cream and champagne.

Some U.S. cardinals also offered insight about why the vote went to Ratzinger.

New York Cardinal Edward Egan, who worked for years in Rome and at the Vatican, was asked whether the new pope had the support of Catholics in Latin America and Africa.

"Obviously, he must have had support from the Third World," he responded. Going into the vote, there was much speculation about the possibility of a pope from the developing world, where most Roman Catholics live.

Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali, who worked for more than two decades in Vatican diplomacy, said the decision to choose Ratzinger was not made in the days leading up to the conclave or as a result of Ratzinger's moving homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral.

"Decisions like this are not made on how a person impresses you in the last five minutes, the last hours, the last days," he said.

Rigali said the cardinals in the conclave thought about what John Paul had accomplished. Ratzinger was close to the late pope.

"We were looking for a successor of (St.) Peter," the first pope, Rigali said. "We were looking for a successor of John Paul II. All of us were talking about the incredible qualities of John Paul II, knowing the world is calling him 'The Great.'"


Associated Press Writer Angela Doland and AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll contributed to this report.

A crowd celebrates the election of Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, who took the name of Pope Benedict XVI, was elected the 265th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Italians Again Shut Out of Papacy

Apr 19, 7:49 PM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Many an Italian depicted the election of a Pole as pope in 1978 as an exception - an exceptional man for exceptional times. With the election of a German to succeed him, it appeared Italians had truly lost their centuries-old grip on the papacy.

Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Benedict XVI on Tuesday, succeeding the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, John Paul II.

"Two-in-a-row does scatter the perception that there was a Polish exception," said Vatican insider John-Peter Pham, a former Holy See diplomat who is based at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

In the 21st century's first conclave, Italians accounted for only 20 of 115 cardinals who participated in the secret balloting. In the conclave that elected John Paul II, Italians were 25 among 111.

By contrast, in the 20th century's first conclave, a 1903 election which elected Italian Pius X, Italians accounted for 38 of 62 cardinals.

Back-to-back Italian losses is "a matter of numbers," said Alberto Melloni, an Italian historian who has studied papal elections.

Since popes appoint cardinals, some church observers had theorized that snatching the papacy back this time would have been crucial for Italians to increase their percentage of electors in the next conclave.

All but two of the cardinals who voted on Tuesday were appointed by John Paul.

The appointment of cardinals from across the planet reflected the last pontiff's determination to give fresh leadership to his flock in eastern Europe after the fall of communism, as well as in the Third World, where most Roman Catholics live and where the church is growing fastest.

After the Polish pontiff won over many Italians with charisma, pilgrimages up and down Italy and even quips in the Roman dialect, nationality might be taking a back seat to personality and philosophy.

"I would think it's an exceptionally parochial view" to depict Ratzinger's election as a defeat for Italians, Pham said. The German, who served as John Paul's trusted watchdog of doctrinal orthodoxy, is "very much a renaissance churchman," Pham said.

"He is one of the few cardinals, who, humanly speaking, went into (the conclave) with the human gifts, talents, and ability that were remotely compared to those of Karol Wojytla (John Paul)," the professor said, citing both men's talents in languages and heavy schooling in culture.

Melloni said, "I don't believe Ratzinger was chosen for the sake of choosing a non-Italian. There were cream-of-the crop Italians who chose a non-Italian."

Although the actual breakdown of who voted for whom is officially part of Vatican secret archives, news reports in the run-up to the conclave named Ratzinger as an initial favorite, purportedly backed by Italian conservatives while opposed by more moderate Italians.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner told reporters Tuesday night that Ratzinger was elected on the fourth ballot, and that he got more than the required two-thirds support.

"It was done without an electoral battle, and without propaganda," the archbishop of Cologne said.

For some Italian churchmen, any sting of seeing the papacy yet again in a foreigner's hands was eased by Ratzinger's long tenure in Italy. Already a cardinal when John Paul was elected, Ratzinger was called to the Vatican by the pope in 1981.

"Personally, I was thinking that if it wasn't going to be an Italian, Ratzinger was among the most likely," Calabrian bishop Vittorio Mondello said.

Like all cardinals who don't run a diocese in Italy, Ratzinger was assigned a titular church in Rome. But unlike many colleagues who rarely spend time at their churches, the German cardinal won points for being fond of his, in Velletri, a hill town on the city's outskirts.

"We consider him our pope. He's very human," said Velletri's bishop, Andrea Maria Erba, who sent Ratzinger a congratulatory telegram.

"He was our candidate," Erba said.

Austrians and Mexicans celebrate together the election of Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, who took the name of Pope Benedict XVI, was elected the 265th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Seminarians Cheer in Benedict's Hometown

Apr 19, 8:03 PM (ET)


TRAUNSTEIN, Germany (AP) - Students at the seminary where Joseph Ratzinger studied for the priesthood as a teenager in the 1940s erupted in cheers Tuesday at the news that he had become the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Students at St. Michael's seminary in Traunstein pumped their hands in the air, and the schools director was in tears.

"I'm completely overwhelmed. I can't fathom what happened," Rev. Thomas Frauenlob said. "He eats with us. I can't grasp it. I know he's going to do a really good job."

The class then joyfully ran together into church for Mass, joined by a few people from the town before church's ornate gold altar. Frauenlob, who officiated, said, "We're celebrating our Bavarian pope, and we are thankful."

"It's fantastic that it's Cardinal Ratzinger. I met him when he was here before and I found him really nice," said Lorenz Gradl, 16, who was confirmed by Ratzinger in 2003.

Michael Winichner, the school's prefect who has had dinner with Ratzinger at Christmas time, said there was "a great feeling of celebration."

"He's a very nice man," he said. "He comes off a little bit shy."

One reason the students were excited was the possibility of a trip to Rome to meet the pope. Winichner was hesitant: "I imagine he has a rather full appointment calendar."

Ratzinger was born in the town of Marktl Am Inn, but the family moved often because of his father's job as a police officer, and he wrote in his memoirs that he considered Traunstein his hometown. He visits the town often, and stays in an apartment at the seminary, which now functions as a high school and no longer focuses on preparing young men for the priesthood.

People in Traunstein say they've seen Ratzinger's softer side, despite his reputation as a theological hard-liner. Frauenlob said he has come home to confirm teenagers and had spent time ministering to the old and sick.

Traunstein was where Ratzinger returned after deserting the German army in 1945, and it was the place where he was taken prisoner by U.S. troops. He was released from a U.S. POW camp in June of that year and hitched a ride home on a milk truck.

People who know him bristled at hearing him described as a "Grand Inquisitor."

"He's the right one," said Martin Huber, a custodian who said the cardinal always took the time to ask about his family. "He's warmhearted."

Away from the seminary, Traunstein's central square was quiet. Not everyone was thrilled at Benedict's election.

Nicole Biermaier, 23, had mixed feelings, caught between her Bavarian heritage and her disagreement with Ratzinger on abortion and birth control.

"I'm proud, but it's pretty much all the same to me," she said. "I was raised Catholic but I'm liberal so to speak. I don't think he's the right one."

Thomas Frauenlob, 3rd from left, the director of the catholic seminar St. Michael in Traunstein, southern Germany, along with young visitors at the seminar react as they learn about German Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger being elected the new pontiff on Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a longtime guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy, was elected the new pope Tuesday evening in the first conclave of the new millennium. He chose the name Pope Benedict XVI. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

In St. Peter's Square, Optimism and Concern

Published: April 19, 2005
International Herald Tribune

VATICAN CITY, April 19 - When the bells of St. Peter's rang out the news that a pope had been chosen, just after 6 tonight, thousands of people in Rome dropped what they were doing and ran to the Vatican, to see the new pontiff emerge on the balcony.

"The whole building emptied and we just moved as fast as we could, risking a heart attack," Giovanni Simeone, a 28-year-old architect, said still panting.

Patrizia Maglie, his co-worker, added, "The only thing that makes Romans run this way is a new pope - or a soccer match."

The tens of thousands gathered in anticipation, shouted "Brava, Brava" when Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez announced, "We have a new pope."

But the reaction was decidedly mixed when Cardinal Ratzinger's name was announced. Some slapped and shouted jubilantly. But an equal number stood by silently and listened. A small number of people wandered out of the square as he spoke.

Those who supported the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, saw him as a force of continuity with his wildly popular predecessor, John Paul II - even if they were not terribly enamored or familiar with the new pope himself.

"I happy because I respect the ideas and ideals of the previous pope and I think he'll continue in just like the old one," said Alberto Napoleone, 34, of Rome.

Indeed the greatest cheers in the new pope's short speech came when he mentioned John Paul II's name, to a chorus of enthusiastic whoops and cheers. The reception to Benedict XVI was much more measured, punctuated by polite applause.

But some well-known conservatives in the crowd were thrilled with a choice that they saw as bringing the church back to its core moral values, including its condemnation of homosexuality and birth control for women.

"Before we felt like orphans, but now again we have someone we can look to," said Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian minister whose appointment to the European Union Cabinet was rejected earlier this year, because of his conservative views on abortion and women's rights.

Calling the new pope "the greatest living theologian and one of the greatest intellectuals of central Europe," Mr. Buttiglione said the former Cardinal Ratzinger had been the "point of reference" in his own intellectual development.

But many in the crowd were openly and greatly distressed by the choice of the new pope - widely regarded as an extreme conservative on a wide variety of social issues. This included many Catholics who said he would take the church in the wrong direction.

"I am very, very upset because I was hoping for a more open pope, one who was more open to the problems of the world," said Paolo Tasselli, a retired bank worker and a practicing Catholic, who said he had hoped the church would give more rights to women and be more involved in social issues.

He said he had loved Pope John Paul II, who he felt was conservative on some issues but "open to the world" in many other ways. He said of the new pope, "I don't think this new one can do that."

The new pope and the old were closely allied, working together to maintain conservative church policies on issues like abortion, birth control and the ordination of women. But John Paul II nonetheless managed to charm more liberal Catholics with his charisma and world travels.

One theologian, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, called Cardinal Ratzinger "John Paul II, without the imagination."

Many others seemed simply perplexed with a choice they saw as moving the church backward. John Paul II, they said, seemed inclined to move the church into the real world. Benedict XVI, they felt, would return to a focus on narrow dogma and doctrine.

"In the German context, he's perceived of as very conservative and has struggled with the German bishops and German Catholics a lot," said Florian Mussgnug, a German who is teaching at a university here.

Events in the Life of Pope Benedict XVI

Apr 19, 7:18 PM (ET)

By The Associated Press

Events in the life of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI:


April 16, 1927: Born in Marktl am Inn in Germany's southern region of Bavaria near the Austrian border on the day before Easter. Baptized the same day.

1929: Family moves to town of Tittmoning.

1932: Family moves to Traunstein after his father has conflicts with local Nazi Party supporters in Tittmoning.

1941: Enrolled against his will in Hitler Youth. Dismissed shortly afterward because of his intention to study for the priesthood.

1943: Drafted as helper for anti-aircraft unit, serves in battery defending BMW plant.

1944: Dismissed from unit, but returns home to find draft notice for forced labor.

1944: Leaves home to dig anti-tank trenches.

1944: Released from labor force and returns home only to receive army draft notice three weeks later.

1945: Deserts from army and returns home. Captured by Americans as war ends.

1945: Released from U.S. POW camp, hitches a ride home on milk truck.

1945: Begins study for priesthood in Freising.

1951: Ordained a priest along with his brother Georg.

1953: Receives doctorate in theology, University of Munich.

1959: Begins teaching theology in Bonn, first of several appointments in German universities.

1969: Leaves University of Tuebingen concerned about student unrest which had interrupted his lectures with sit-ins. Takes teaching job in Regensburg in native Bavaria, near his brother.

1977: Elected Archbishop of Munich und Freising.

1977: Elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

1978: Participated in conclave that elected Pope John Paul II.

1979: Vatican revokes theology teaching license of liberal German theologian Hans Kueng, who helped Ratzinger get a teaching post at University of Tuebingen in the 1960s. Ratzinger was sharply critical of Kueng.

1981: Summoned to Rome as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under John Paul II.

1985: On behalf of John Paul II, he denounces a work by Leonard Boff, a Latin American pioneer of Liberation Theology.

1985: Publication of "The Ratzinger Report."

1997: Publication of "Salt of the Earth."

1998: Publication of "Milestones. Memoirs: 1927 to 1997."

1999: Travels to Menlo Park, Calif., for meeting with leaders of doctrinal committees of bishops conferences.

2000: Publication of "God and World,""Spirit of the Liturgy."

2001: Attended Fontgombault Liturgical Conference, France.

2002: Named Dean of the College of Cardinals.

2002: Travels to Spain to preside over the "Christ: Way, Truth and Life" congress at the Catholic University of St. Anthony.

April 13, 2005: Publication of "Values in a Time of Upheaval."

April 19, 2005: Elected Pope Benedict XVI.

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