White smoke and bells

A new Pope has been elected. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, former Dean of the College of Cardinals, has been raised to the Papacy and has taken the name Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger was the heavy favorite heading into Conclave and after three rounds of voting over a two day period was elected to follow in the foot steps of Pope John Paul II as the 265th leader of the Catholic Church. Ratzinger is the first German pope since the 11th century, and has referred to himself as “a simple, humble worker.” After ascending to the balconies of St. Peter’s Basilica, the new Pope addressed the tens of thousands of people filling the square.

“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.”

In addition to being the Dean of the College of Cardinals, “Ratzinger served John Paul II since 1981 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In that position, he has disciplined church dissidents and upheld church policy against attempts by liberals for reforms.” The future will not be an easy one for the new Pope with “tendencies that he considered dangers to the faith: sects, ideologies like Marxism, liberalism, atheism, agnosticism and relativism — the ideology that there are no absolute truths,” and the actual problems the Church is dealing with; such as “fallout from priest sex-abuse scandals, chronic shortages of priests and nuns, as well as calls for sharper activism against poverty and easing the ban on condoms to help combat AIDS,” the first new Pope of the 21st century will have a lot to contend with. Not to mention that he “also must maintain the global ministry of John Paul, who took 104 international trips in his more than 26-year papacy.”

It will be interesting to see the direction the Church now heads in under the direction of this new Pope, who has been described as “the Vatican’s doctrinal hard-liner.” One thing is clear however, now that there is a new Pope, all eyes will be focused even more on the Vatican, at least for little while.

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