Benedict XVI is elected Pope
Benedict XVI was elected Pope at the age of 78.
He is the oldest person to have been elected Pope since Pope Clement XII (1730–40). He had served longer as a cardinal than any Pope since Benedict XIII (1724–30). He is the ninth German Pope, the eighth having been the Dutch-German Pope Adrian VI (1522–23) from Utrecht. The last Pope named Benedict was Benedict XV, an Italian who reigned from 1914 to 1922, during World War I (1914–18).
Born in 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, Ratzinger had a distinguished career as a university theologian before being appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI (1963–78). Shortly afterwards, he was made a cardinal in the consistory of 27 June 1977. He was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and was also assigned the honorific title of the cardinal bishop of Velletri-Segni on 5 April 1993. In 1998, he was elected sub-dean of the College of Cardinals. And on 30 November 2002, he was elected dean, taking, as is customary, the title of Cardinal bishop of the suburbicarian diocese of Ostia. He was the first Dean of the College elected Pope since Paul IV (1555–59) and the first cardinal bishop elected Pope since Pius VIII (1829–30).
Even before becoming Pope, Ratzinger was one of the most influential men in the Roman Curia, and was a close associate of John Paul II. As Dean of the College of Cardinals, he presided over the funeral of John Paul II and over the Mass immediately preceding the 2005 conclave in which he was elected. During the service, he called on the assembled cardinals to hold fast to the doctrine of the faith. He was the public face of the church in the sede vacante period, although, technically, he ranked below the Camerlengo in administrative authority during that time. Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI affirms traditional Catholic doctrine.
In addition to his native German, Benedict XVI fluently speaks Italian, French, English, Spanish, and Latin, and also has a knowledge of Portuguese. He can read Ancient Greek and biblical Hebrew. He has stated that his first foreign language is French. He is a member of a large number of academies, such as the French Académie des sciences morales et politiques. He plays the piano and has a preference for Mozart and Bach.
VATICAN CITY - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a hard-line guardian of conservative doctrine, was elected the new pope Tuesday evening in the first conclave of the new millennium. He chose the name Pope Benedict XVI and called himself “a simple, humble worker.”
An inauguration Mass for the new pope was set for Sunday at 10 a.m. local time, 4 a.m. ET. Benedict XVI decided to spend the night at the Vatican hotel where cardinals have been staying, and to dine with the cardinals.
Ratzinger, the first German pope since the 11th century, emerged onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, where he waved to a wildly cheering crowd of tens of thousands and gave his first blessing as the church's 265th pope. Other cardinals clad in their crimson robes came out on other balconies to watch him.
“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me — a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord,” he said. “I entrust myself to your prayers,” the pope said.
“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 in his first public address. “I entrust myself to your prayers.”
The crowd responded by chanting “Benedict! Benedict!”
In Washington, President Bush offered his congratulations, calling the new pope "a man of great wisdom and knowledge."
If the new pope was paying tribute to the last pontiff of that name, it could be interpreted as a bid to soften his image as the Vatican’s doctrinal hard-liner. Benedict XV, who reigned from 1914 to 1922, was a moderate after Pius X, who had implemented a sharp crackdown against doctrinal “modernism.”
Ordained 29 June 1951. Elected Archbishop of Munich, 24 March 1977. Made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, 27 June 1977. In 1981, Ratzinger was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the organization which until 1965 had been called the Holy Office of the Inquisition, making him successor to the Grand Inquisitor. A prominent and learned theologian within the church, his chief role as Prefect was to produce the church's official interpretation of scripture; as such, he is seen as more conservative within the church, especially when compared with the more "liberal" Pope John Paul II -- again, liberal within the context of the Catholic church.
Even so, Ratzinger was considered a likely successor to the papacy during Pope John Paul II's declining years. Despite mild contention in that pope's last days from Nigerian cardinal Francis Arinze and Cláudio Hummes of São Paulo, Ratzinger was elected quickly after only two rounds of voting -- hardly 24 hours after the conclave of cardinals first convened. He was officially elected Pope on 19 April 2005, choosing the name Benedict XVI. He succeeds in name Pope Benedict XV, pontiff from 1914-22, and in nationality Pope Victor II, pontiff from 1055-57, making him the first German pope in nearly a thousand years.