Benedict Keeps Cardinal As Vatican's No. 2
Apr 21, 7:21 AM (ET)
By TONY CZUCZKA
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI confirmed Cardinal Angelo Sodano in the Vatican's No. 2 post Thursday and kept all other top officials, avoiding any immediate shakeup in the late John Paul II's administration.
It was a sign that the new pope, a doctrinal hard-liner, wants to show continuity with the popular John Paul.
Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state, is 77, already two years past the normal retirement age for Vatican officials. The new pope is 78.
One appointment Benedict will have to make is his successor as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's guardian of orthodoxy.
Among names that have surfaced as possible successors are Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria and Cardinal Francis George of Chicago.
The Vatican announcement Thursday also said the pope confirmed the Holy See's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo of Italy, as well as the undersecretary of state, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri of Argentina, who had become John Paul's official voice when the late pontiff could no longer speak.
The confirmation of Sodano came a day after Benedict gave his first Mass at the Vatican as pope, pledging to keep reaching out to other religions and leaving no doubt that he senses the large shadow of his predecessor.
"I seem to feel his strong hand holding mine, I feel I can see his smiling eyes and hear his words, at this moment particularly directed at me: 'Be not afraid,'" said Benedict, who until Tuesday was simply Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
While signaling that he wants to tread in John Paul's ideological footsteps, the 78-year-old pope is a contrast in style to his predecessor, who was 20 years younger when he became pontiff and kept up a grueling global travel schedule even as his health ebbed.
John Paul II, who died April 2, acted, played soccer, went canoeing in mountain streams as a young man in Poland. Benedict is mostly an indoor man, though he is a big walker because of his youth in the Bavarian Alps. He finds relaxation in classical music and likes to play the piano, not take to the stage.
But Benedict took his cue from John Paul when he pledged Wednesday to work for unity among Christians and to seek "an open and sincere dialogue" with other faiths.
He also stressed he would draw on the work of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meeting that modernized the church, an issue important to liberals who are wary of Benedict from his time as the powerful enforcer of church doctrine.
Benedict will be fighting that reputation close to home as he tackles one of the biggest challenges: a Europe of empty churches and growing secularism.
And as the world's 1.1 billion Catholics got first hints of where the papacy is headed, followers of other religions weighed the future of interfaith relations. By and large, reactions were hopeful and expectant - an indication of the new standards in reaching out that John Paul set during his 26-year papacy.
"I think he has been very open, so I have no worries about the ecumenical route," said British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. "It will continue. No doubt at all."
But the new pope has been one of the most forceful Vatican voices for Catholic missionary work and other forms of evangelization. He was the intellectual force behind the 2000 document "Dominus Iesus," which outlined the Catholic Church as an exclusive road to salvation and angered Protestants, Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians.
In Israel, admiration for John Paul's tireless efforts to promote Jewish-Catholic reconciliation mixed with unease about Benedict's time in the Hitler Youth as a teenager.
Benedict has written openly about his service, which was compulsory under the Nazi regime. He also was drafted into a German anti-aircraft unit during World War II, though he says he never fired a shot.
John Paul won many Israeli hearts during a trip to the Holy Land in 2000 by apologizing for Roman Catholic wrongdoing over the centuries. He also was praised for promoting interfaith dialogue, establishing diplomatic relations with Israel and aiding Polish Jews during the Nazi era.
"Israel can certainly coexist with him," Oded Ben-Hor, Israel's ambassador to the Vatican, said of the new pope. "But the real test will come over the course of time."
Benedict inherits sometimes testy relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, which has accused Catholics of poaching Orthodox believers. John Paul, the first Slavic pope, saw a visit to Russia as a way to promote greater Christian unity a millennium after the east-west schism, but he never was able to arrange the trip.
"We very much hope that under the new pope those problems will be solved," said Igor Vyzhanov, an Orthodox church spokesman.
Benedict's election was welcomed across the Islamic world, where many people hope he will promote harmony between the two religions and possibly Middle East peace.
The new pope won praise from Muslims by criticizing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for comments in 2001 that Western civilization is superior to Islam. "One cannot speak of the superiority of one culture over another, because history has shown that a society can change from one age to another," he said at the time.
But Benedict has objected mostly Muslim Turkey's bid to join the European Union, viewing it out of line with the continent's Christian traditions.
John Paul was the first pope to visit a mosque, urged religious tolerance, spoke out against the U.S.-led war in Iraq and called for a peaceful end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"The late pope took brilliant and daring stands, and we hope the new pope would follow his example," said Sheik Salah Keftaro, a prominent Syrian cleric who accompanied John Paul on his historic visit to Damascus' Omayyad Mosque in May 2001.
Associated Press writers Brian Murphy, Nicole Winfield, Frances D'Emilio and Vanessa Gera contributed to this report.
Benedict XVI Promises Dialogue and Reconciliation
April 21, 2005
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN and IAN FISHER for the New York Times
VATICAN CITY, April 20 - Pope Benedict XVI used his first papal Mass on Wednesday to send a message of openness and reconciliation to his Roman Catholic followers, other churches and other faiths, as he and the cardinals who elected him sought to transform his image from authoritarian doctrinal watchdog to humble servant and pastor.
Speaking in the customary Latin, the new pope said that as with his predecessor John Paul II, his "primary commitment" would be to work toward "the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers." He added, "Theological dialogue is necessary."
It was a striking shift in tone from a mere two days ago, when he entered the conclave in the Sistine Chapel as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a theologian who had served for the last 24 years as the oft-feared chief interpreter and enforcer of Roman Catholic doctrine. Then, in a homily, he denounced what he called a "dictatorship of relativism" and "new sects" that drew in believers through "human trickery."
On Wednesday, he made a public appearance in front of his former apartment on Piazza della Città Leonina, a few blocks from the Vatican, stopping on the street and greeting two children, cupping one of their faces in his hands.
Cardinals took the unusual step of appearing at joint news conferences and agreeing to individual interviews, describing the new pope as "compassionate," "collegial" and "shy."
And the Vatican, which has demonstrated a sensitivity to public image and a skillful use of television to promote John Paul's papacy, released videos of Benedict, dressed in white cassock and skullcap, walking into his new papal apartments, greeted by applauding Vatican officials.
All seven American cardinal-archbishops appeared at an unusual news conference at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and tried to introduce the world to a man they revered enough to elevate to the papacy. They acknowledged their concern that some American Catholics might prejudge the new pope by his reputation as cardinal.
"We just have to be very careful about caricaturing the Holy Father and very simply putting labels upon this man of the church," said Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles. "I've already seen some headlines in our country doing that, and I think that's a mistake."
Some critical headlines appeared in European newspapers on Wednesday, including "A Warrior To Challenge Modernity" in La Repubblica in Italy, "Intransigence" in an editorial headline in France's left-wing Libération, and "From Hitler Youth to Holy See" on the front page of the Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad.
The problem of Benedict's public image - and the contrast with that of his warmer predecessor - was summed up in a front page cartoon in Corriere della Serra, Italy's most respected newspaper. It alluded to John Paul II's now-famous introduction as pope from the basilica balcony in August 1978: "I do not know whether I can express myself in your - in our - Italian language. If I make mistakes," he added, beaming and endearing himself to Italians, "you will correct me."
The cartoon showed Benedict at the same balcony looking out at the crowds and saying, "And if I make a mistake, woe to you if you correct me!"
The cardinals explained at their news conference that the new pope had been chosen in a speedy four rounds of balloting because of his brilliance as a theologian, his deep spirituality and his ability to communicate the faith with clarity.
"The vision that some have of the Holy Father is someone who is not interested in dialogue. That's a skewed vision," said Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C. "I believe you will find in the papacy of Benedict XVI a good deal of consultation, a good deal of collegiality."
In his former identity, Cardinal Ratzinger was best known for his role as the leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office once called the Holy Inquisition and charged with protecting the church from heresy. In that powerful position, he disciplined theologians and bishops, reeled in proponents of "liberation theology," curtailed the authority of national bishops conferences and condemned homosexuality and feminism.
"When he was head of the Doctrine of the Faith, he had a particular task to do, which was to uphold and make sure the traditions of the church, doctrinally, morally, were upheld," Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, England, said in a separate news conference. "Now that he is pope, it is an entirely different concept altogether. Now he is Peter for the whole church."
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, said: "Knowing him for 30 years, he is a person some say cold, but it's not the case. He is a reserved person, who expresses with small signs that which passes inside him. He is not an effusive, spectacular person. He is self-contained but with a great heart."
The cardinals, who are sworn to secrecy about the conclave's proceedings, refused to talk about other candidates or how the new pope had prevailed. But they disclosed that upon his election, Benedict had said one of the reasons he took that name was that the last Pope Benedict had a short papacy and that he expected that too.
The video images the Vatican released Wednesday showed the pope sitting down at his new desk, and with a black marker, signing his new name to a sheet of paper.
The Vatican also gave a brief description of his first full day as pope: In the morning he visited his former staff at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He had lunch with members of the Curia, which is the Vatican bureaucracy.
People who know the pope say that at 78, he appears to be in good health. But he has had some medical problems over the years. In 1991, when he was in his mid-60s, he suffered a brain hemorrhage, but soon recovered, his biographer, John Allen, said in a phone conversation. At his age then, that would probably indicate a mild stroke.
Cardinal Francis Eugene George of Chicago said Wednesday that the pope did suffer "a bout of difficult health" a few years ago, then regained his strength.
Soon after he was elected Tuesday, the cardinals in the conclave knelt before him one by one and kissed his ring. Cardinal George said that when it came to his turn, he knelt and began to address the pope in halting German.
He said Benedict "immediately responded in English that he remembered our conversation" - a brief talk the two men had several days before about the priest sexual abuse scandal and the need to maintain the church laws necessary to discipline abusive priests. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in charge of hearing the cases of accused priests, sometimes defrocking them.
"He had a good grasp of the situation," Cardinal George said.
Later Tuesday night, the cardinals joined the new pope for a dinner of soup, veal cordon bleu and ice cream for dessert - "a treat," said Cardinal George. They toasted the new pope with glasses of Asti spumante.
On Friday, Pope Benedict will visit again with all the cardinals in Rome. Then on Saturday, he is expected to meet with journalists. A Vatican official said it had not been decided whether he would answer questions, though John Paul I and John Paul II responded to some questions during similar meetings with journalists soon after their elections.
In St. Peter's Square, with no more smoke to watch for, the bustle of the two days of the conclave had settled back to normal on Wednesday. Most souvenir shops had not yet stocked the usual run of papal souvenirs - the prayer cards, rosaries, statuettes, postcards - with the image of Benedict, though owners assured the few customers asking that it would take only a few days.
One shop facing St. Peter's Square did have copies of Benedict's photograph, large and small, and Jim Roccio, 66, from Johnstown, Pa., managed to buy the last one before they sold out Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Roccio, a travel agent who considers himself a moderate Catholic, said he was happy to hear that Benedict was working to soften his image.
"From things I read about him, I had my doubts," said Mr. Roccio, who was in St. Peter's Square when the election was announced. "But watching him on the balcony, his first words - that he wanted to be humble - I thought he was reaching out, saying that I might have had some different opinions, but now I know I am not just a cardinal.
"To me, that's what appeals to me right now," he said. "He's not saying: 'Here I am; you have to take me as I am.' "
In the square, two young German Catholics writing postcards in front of the basilica said they were thrilled at a German pope, especially one who was, like them, from Bavaria. But they too said they hoped that Benedict's efforts to reach out were sincere.
"In the past he was a conservative," said Hans Reichhart, 22, who grew up near Benedict's hometown. "But I hope that he changes his mind to the time before he came to Rome, because he was a progressive. I hope that he will bring new life to the church."
Elisabeth Rosenthal contributed reporting for this article.
Jake Price for The New York Times
A priest in St. Peter's Square yesterday watched a television screen that broadcast Benedict XVI's celebration of his first Mass as pope before cardinals in the Sistine Chapel.
Russian Patriarch Congratulates Pope
Apr 21, 3:42 AM (ET)
By MARIA DANILOVA
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's Orthodox Church eyed the new pope with mixture of hope and concern, wary that relations between two of the world's largest Christian communities could worsen under his watch.
Patriarch Alexy II congratulated Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday and expressed his wish for a fruitful dialogue between the two churches, which remain tense amid Russian allegations of Catholic poaching of Orthodox believers.
After a millennium of animosity and mistrust, church leaders say future relations will depend on whether the new pontiff addresses the proselytizing problems that have strained ties.
"We are at this moment very, very open to new approaches in our relations, to any ideas which will help us to return to the golden age of Orthodox-Catholic relations," said Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who is in charge of foreign relations for the Moscow Patriarchate.
The late John Paul II wanted to promote greater unity between the churches some 1,000 years after the Great Schism divided Christianity into eastern and western branches. Following the Soviet collapse, antagonism rose as Roman Catholics tried to reassert their presence, even as the Russian church was working to restore the clout it had lost under Communist atheist rule.
Alexander Ogorodnikov, a religion expert and editor of an Orthodox magazine, said that judging by his past, Benedict may lack the zeal John Paul had for closer ties. As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger soured relations with the Russian Patriarchate by backing a move to stop referring to the Orthodox branch of Christianity as a "sister Church" - since Roman Catholics see Rome as the "mother" church.
"There may even be a certain cooling of relations," Ogorodnikov said.
Since the collapse of communism, the Orthodox have worked to restore deteriorating churches and resuscitate dormant congregations, while the Roman Catholics reclaimed some of their pre-revolutionary churches and dispatched foreign priests to minister to parishioners.
The advances infuriated the Russian church and Alexy II firmly objected to a papal visit. President Vladimir Putin had said he favored a visit by the pope, but didn't press the issue.
The frayed ties make it unlikely that Benedict will visit Russia any time soon or fulfill John Paul's ultimate goal - healing the Great Schism of 1054. The Orthodox Church does not recognize papal authority.
"I don't think unity in theological terms is achievable in the foreseeable future," Chaplin told Associated Press Television News. "I think it should not be the unity on the conditions of the bigger partner, it should be and can be only unity on the basis of the faith, of the early undivided church from which, I am afraid, many people in the Roman Catholic church have gone a little bit away."
While Ogorodnikov predicted the new pope would adopt an "even tone" in his relations with the Orthodox Church, he noted that Ratzinger took the name Benedict - after the Italian Pontiff Benedict XV known for his dream of reuniting with Orthodox Christians - may be seen as a sign that he will pursue that course.
"The pope realizes that today the Catholic Church's strategic partner is the Orthodox Church and he will strive for dialogue and cooperation," Ogorodnikov said.
Pope Benedict XVI Gets e-Mail Address
Apr 21, 9:18 AM (ET)
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Got a prayer or a problem for the new pope? Now you can e-mail him. Showing that Pope Benedict XVI intends to follow in the footsteps of John Paul II's multimedia ministry, the Vatican on Thursday modified its Web site so that users who click on an icon on the home page automatically activate an e-mail composer with his address.
In English, the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. In Italian: email@example.com.
Vatican spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment on how many messages Benedict may have received already.
John Paul, who died April 2, was the first pope to use e-mail, a medium that made its debut during his 26-year papacy. The Vatican said he received tens of thousands of messages in his final weeks as he struggled with illness.
In 2001, sitting in the Vatican's frescoed Clementine Hall, John Paul used a laptop to tap out an apology for Roman Catholic missionary abuses against indigenous peoples of the South Pacific.
The Vatican also used e-mail to notify journalists of John Paul's death.
The Holy See often issues news or documents to journalists via e-mail, and its labyrinth of obscure offices and councils are online in half a dozen languages. Even the Sistine Chapel, with its famed art collection, offers a virtual reality tour.
On the Net:
Vatican site, www.vatican.va
Catholics Wonder Who Next Pope Will Be
Apr 20, 4:45 PM (ET)
By RICHARD N. OSTLING
With the election of a 78-year-old pope, some Roman Catholics already are wondering about the 266th pontiff. The next conclave will have to tackle such questions as whether the election of Benedict XVI means the papacy has permanently swung to the right and whether Latin Americans or Africans will ever exert enough leverage to put one of their own on the throne of St. Peter.
Benedict is the oldest man elected to his office in 275 years, and though it might seem ghoulish to raise the prospect of a successor just after the white smoke has cleared, it's realistic for cardinals to contemplate the future.
After winning, Benedict himself spoke of a "short reign." And though apparently in stable health now, he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke in 1991: One German priest says he has a "delicate constitution."
Thirty-eight of this week's electors are under age 70, and would be eligible to vote even if the next conclave occurs a decade from now.
Members of the College of Cardinals will be paying close attention to colleagues who were too young to be realistic papabili in this round, including Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, Christoph Schoenborn of Austria and Angelo Scola of Venice.
Some of the cardinals who sized up each other these past weeks will continue the process when they gather with Benedict at the August World Youth Day in Germany and the international Synod of Bishops in October.
The German's snap victory, following a Pole's 1978 triumph, seems to have smashed for good any assumption that Italians are the automatic front-runners going into papal elections. It's the first time two consecutive non-Italians have won since a series of 14th century Frenchmen ruled from Avignon.
That inevitably raises expectations the next election will finally be time for a pope from Latin America, 21st century Catholicism's population center, the fast-growing church in sub-Saharan Africa or another surprise venue. From St. Peter through Benedict, popes have hailed only from the Mideast, North Africa or Europe.
Africa's current voting strength is a mere 11 and the Latin Americans constitute no unified bloc, though that could shift under Benedict, who alone has the power to appoint new cardinals and most of the bishops who will become cardinals.
The first signs of Benedict's personnel policy will come shortly, when he appoints the men who will run key agencies in the Vatican Curia, or bureaucracy. He obviously will be inclined to name people who share his doctrinal orthodoxy.
Another lesson from conclave 2005: There's no such thing as being too conservative.
In terms of church doctrine and discipline - as opposed to social and economic issues in the wider world - John Paul thinned the ranks of moderately progressive cardinals. By the end of Benedict's tenure, there are likely to be even fewer progressive leaders like Godfried Danneels (71) of Belgium and Carlo Maria Martini (78), Milan's retired archbishop.
One more clue to the next conclave will dribble out in the days and weeks to come, as more clerics leak details of Benedict's election.
That information may show whether John Paul II assured Benedict's win by abolishing the required two-thirds majority to elect a pope, a tradition that had lasted since the year 1179. John Paul allowed for election by a simple majority after 30 ballots.
True, it took only four ballots for the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to get more than two-thirds of the cardinals on his side. But if a majority bloc was quickly drawn to him, that could have coaxed supporters of other candidates to accept that Ratzinger would eventually win.
The lesson, in such a scenario, is that the long tradition of finding compromise papal candidates acceptable to various voting blocs could be at an end. Even narrow majorities will be able to enforce their will on the rest of the cardinals; a situation that favors well-known candidates like Ratzinger.
Ironically, John Paul II was an underdog who probably would have lost under the new rule - a change which Benedict seems likely to maintain.
According to the conventional scenario, the cardinals looked toward Poland in 1978 only after Italy's Cardinal Giovanni Benelli couldn't quite hit the two-thirds mark because he had made too many enemies during his Vatican years.
In the next conclave, with that 31st ballot looming ahead, backers of future Benellis will be able to wait - and win.
Progressive Catholics See Hope for Pope
Apr 21, 2:36 AM (ET)
By NIKO PRICE
VATICAN CITY (AP) - On the cobblestones of St. Peter's Square, conservative Roman Catholics gazed at their new pope with admiration and joy. But even some progressive Catholics who saw Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as a dinosaur looked at Pope Benedict XVI with newfound hope.
The reason? John XXIII, who in his 1958-63 papacy became known as "the good pope."
Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli gave little indication he had any radical plans. When he was elected pope at age 77, many figured he would be a transitional figure after the 19-year papacy of Pius XII, much like Ratzinger after John Paul II's 26-year reign.
But John soon convened the Second Vatican Council, which revolutionized and liberalized the church. It decreed that Mass could be said in modern languages instead of only Latin, sought closer ties with other faiths and allowed for greater cultural diversity in Catholic rituals.
Ratzinger is seen as a rigorously conservative guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy and is known as the Vatican's leading hard-liner. At 78, he is also seen as a transitional pope.
That produced apprehension among some of the faithful gathered in the square Wednesday to watch Benedict's first Mass on giant screens.
"I think the church needs some new ideas and blood, mainly about contraception, homosexuality and abortion," said Jude Nathalie, a 23-year-old flight attendant from Quatrebornes, Mauritius.
But some progressives said no matter what Ratzinger did as cardinal, he could still disprove those who expect his papacy to continue John Paul's rigid rejection of attempts to reform the church.
Paul Nelson, a 64-year-old retired university president from Grand Rapids, Michigan, said he attended Benedict's first appearance Tuesday evening, then spent the night reflecting on what his selection might mean for the church.
"I'm reminded of John XXIII. We thought we had him pretty much in our box, and he threw open the windows of the church to the world," Nelson said. "In this new role, clearly (Benedict) maintains his convictions and philosophy, but it's a new day for him."
"As a progressive Roman Catholic, I remain optimistic," he said.
As a cardinal, Ratzinger argued against convening a third Vatican Council. He said the church has yet to finish assimilating the second one, in which he participated. That would seem to rule out a major shift in church direction during his papacy.
More conservative sectors of the church were clearly delighted with Benedict's selection. "This is a time of great joy," Opus Dei prelate Monsignor Javier Echevarria said in a statement from Madrid, Spain.
Many of the pilgrims gathered Wednesday were thrilled by the selection of a cardinal as conservative as Ratzinger, who has denounced rock music as the "vehicle of anti-religion" and dismissed anyone who tries to find "feminist" meanings in the Bible.
"When the conclave started, I already wanted him to be pope. I was so happy yesterday I was in tears," said Greg Uanan, a 34-year-old priest from Ilagan, the Philippines. "If there is a man who should continue all the things that John Paul has done, it is Ratzinger."
Elizabeth Lev, a 38-year-old art history teacher from Boston, couldn't stop smiling.
"It's just so beautiful. The sun is shining. We have a new father," she said. "We Catholics aren't orphaned any more."
But it remains unclear how much of Ratzinger's orthodoxy as cardinal was due to his convictions and how much to his job. Since 1981, he headed the powerful Vatican office that oversees doctrine and takes action against dissent: the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He tried to resign several times, but John Paul didn't let him.
Now that he is in charge of the church, some pilgrims said, we might see a different man.
Elisabeth Otzisk, a 33-year-old musician from Bottrop, Germany, pointed out that "in Germany, he's not so beloved." But she too was reminded of John XXIII.
"John XXIII changed, and maybe he will too," she said. "Now he's a pope. Before he was not."
Cardinals who elected Benedict called on the faithful of all stripes to give their new pope a chance. New York Cardinal Edward Egan said the sensitivity Benedict commanded in his homily at John Paul's funeral reminded him of "Good Pope John."
"He is a very lovely and loving person," Egan told reporters. "I think you're going to like him very much."