Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, of Germany, a doctrinal conservative, was elected the 265th pontiff Tuesday evening in the second day of the first papal conclave of the 21st century. He chose the name Pope Benedict XVI. Video here.
The 115 cardinals from 52 countries who were eligible to elect a new pontiff started their secret meeting on Monday. Three earlier votes had failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required to elect a pope, but on the fourth try the the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica rang and the white smoke wafted. A cardinal from Chile, Jorge Medina Estevez, the Senior Cardinal Deacon, made the announcement before thousands of cheering spectators.
The election came 17 days after the death of John Paul at his residence in the Vatican on April 2.
Ratzinger delivered a rousing sermon Monday before the cardinals and congregation packed into St. Peter’s Basilica. “To have a clear faith according to the church’s creed is today often labeled fundamentalism. While relativism, letting ourselves be carried away by any wind of doctrine, appears as the only appropriate attitude for the today’s times. A dictatorship of relativism is established that recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one’s own ego and one’s own desires as the final measure.
“To have a clear faith according to the church’s creed is today often labeled fundamentalism, while relativism, letting ourselves be carried away by any wind of doctrine, appears as the only appropriate attitude for the today’s times. A dictatorship of relativism is established that recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one’s own ego and one’s own desires as the final measure.”
Cardinal Ratzinger has been a head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the Vatican’s guardian of orthodoxy since 1981. Profile on Ratzinger from AP here, BBC here. Ratzinger is the first German pope since the 11th century.
Pope Benedict XVI has delivered his first address as pontiff from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome:
- 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.
The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers
In the joy of the resurrected Lord, we go on with his help. He is going to help us and Mary will be on our side. Thank you.
President Bush said of the new pope, “We remember well his sermon at the pope’s funeral in Rome, how his words touched our hearts and the hearts of millions. We join with our fellow citizens and millions around the world who pray for continued strength and wisdom as His Holiness leads the Catholic Church.”
“We are certain that he will continue on the path of reconciliation between Christians and Jews that John Paul II began,” Paul Spiegel, head of Germany’s main Jewish organization, told The Associated Press.