Text of Speech Delivered by New Pope
“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.
“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 risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, we go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary his very holy mother stands by us.”
Pope Benedict XVI
German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the strict defender of Catholic orthodoxy for the past 23 years, was elected Pope on Tuesday despite a widespread assumption he was too old and divisive to win election.
He took the name Benedict XVI, a cardinal announced to crowds in St. Peter’s Square after white smoke from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel chimney and the pealing of bells from St. Peter’s Basilica announced that a new pope had been chosen.
Roman Catholic cardinals elected Ratzinger on just the second day of secret conclave to find a successor to Pope John Paul II.
Billed as the front-runner going into the conclave, Ratzinger, 78, was widely seen as a standard-bearer who would fall short of the required two-thirds majority and have to cede to a more conciliatory compromise figure.
But he sounded very much the candidate before going into the conclave on Monday, defending orthodox Catholicism and warning the other 114 cardinal electors against following godless modern trends.
“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” he declared at a pre-conclave Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Ratzinger’s stern leadership of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern successor to the Inquisition, delighted conservative Catholics but upset moderates and other Christians whose churches he described as deficient.
Born in Bavaria on April 16, 1927, Ratzinger was a leading theology professor and then archbishop of Munich before taking over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981.
In that office, Ratzinger disciplined Latin American “liberation theology” theologians, denounced homosexuality and gay marriage and pressured Asian priests who saw non-Christian religions as part of God’s plan for humanity.
In a document in 2000, he branded other Christian churches as deficient — shocking Anglicans, Lutherans and other Protestants in ecumenical dialogue with Rome for years.
As dean of the College of Cardinals, he presided over John Paul’s funeral Mass and the daily meetings of cardinals to discuss the next papacy.
Ratzinger was the oldest cardinal to be named pope since Clement XII, who was also 78 when he became pope in 1730. He is the first German pope since Victor II (1055-1057).