Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 25, 2005
'A simple, humble worker'
Cardinal Ratzinger elected Benedict XVI
By JOHN THAVIS
Catholic News Service
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the 78-year-old guardian of the Church's doctrine for the last 24 years, was elected the 265th pope and took the name Benedict XVI.
Appearing at the central window of St. Peter's Basilica April 19, the newly elected pope smiled as he was greeted by a cheering, flag-waving crowd of nearly 100,000.
"After the great John Paul II, the cardinals elected me, a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord," Pope Benedict said in a brief talk.
"I am consoled by the fact that the Lord can work and act even through insufficient instruments, and I especially entrust myself to your prayers," he said.
"In the joy of the risen Lord, and trusting in his permanent help, we go forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary his most holy mother is on our side. Thank you."
Then Pope Benedict gave his blessing to the city of Rome and to the world. He stood and listened to the endless applause that followed, smiling and raising his hands above his head.
Pope Benedict was the first German pope since Pope Victor II, who served from 1055-57.
The new pope was chosen by at least a two-thirds majority of 115 cardinals from 52 countries, who cast their ballots in secret in the Sistine Chapel.
The election came on the second day of the voting, presumably on the fourth ballot. It was a surprisingly quick conclusion of a conclave that began with many potential candidates and no clear favourite.
The day before, Ratzinger had opened the conclave with a stern warning about moral relativism and ideological currents that have buffeted 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: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism," he said.
"Every day new sects are created and what St. Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw people into error," he said. Having a clear faith today is often labelled "fundamentalism."
As the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981, Pope Benedict was on the front lines of numerous theological and pastoral controversies. He was described by Vatican officials who worked with him as a kind and prayerful theologian and a gentler man than the one often portrayed in the media as an inquisitor.
He made the biggest headlines when his congregation silenced or excommunicated theologians, withdrew Church approval of certain books, helped rewrite liturgical translations, set boundaries on ecumenical dialogues, took over the handling of clergy sex abuse cases against minors, curbed the role of bishops' conferences and pressured religious orders to suspend wayward members.
Pope Benedict's election was announced in Latin to a waiting world from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. A massive crowd of young and old filled St. Peter's Square and welcomed the news with cheers and applause.
White smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 5:49 p.m. signaling that the cardinals had chosen a successor to Pope John Paul II. At 6:04 p.m., the bells of St. Peter's Basilica began pealing continuously to confirm the election.
At 6:40 p.m., Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, the senior cardinal in the order of deacons, appeared at the basilica balcony and intoned to the crowd in Latin: "Dear brothers and sisters, I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope."
He continued: "The most eminent and reverend lordship, Lord Joseph Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Ratzinger."
The crowd in the square burst into applause. Some jumped for joy, some knelt to pray and some simply stood and watched.
"After the great John Paul II, the cardinals elected me, a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord"
- Pope Benedict XVI
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