Pope Benedict 16
After all of the fuss and speculation, the Catholic Church has elected 78 year old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the pope to follow on from Pope John Paul II who died on April the 2nd at 84 years of age.
This would seem to confirm that the church is following the conservative views that the late pope held firmly, squashing for the time being any thoughts of a liberalisation of the views of the Catholic church, especially toward such knotty problems as divorce, contraception, abortion, marriage of clergy, woman priests and homosexuality (which he has called "an intrinsic moral evil"), which many people feel are due to be reassessed in the light of changing world views on these issues.
The new Pope Benedict XVI, which means "Blessed" in the original Latin, was born in Rural Bavaria, Germany. He was always considered during his time as Cardinal to be especially close to the late Pope John Paul II - being referred to often as the late Pope's "enforcer" of policy leading to his being seen as particularly right wing in his views. He became known as "Cardinal No" because of his drives to crack down on the liberation theology movement, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and calls to ordain women as priests.
He has argued that Muslim Turkey does not belong in Christian Europe, nor in the EU, and issued a document saying that Catholicism was the only true religion, questioning the validity of other religions, even Christian ones, whilst at the same time Pope John Paul II was trying to reach out to other faiths.
It seems that his elevation to popehood is not universally acclaimed though. The British press have been having a field day with lurid stories in virtually all of the national press, calling him variously, "God's Rottweiler", "Papa Ratzi", "Tank Cardinal" and other such sensationalised descriptions. I have to admit despairing of the British press contingent at times, maintaining the impression to the world at large that they are still living in the days of the British Empire. It is even more amazing when one considers that the British Press is virtually entirely in the ownership of Americans and Australians.
For all that, I wish the new Pope all the luck in the world. I have a feeling that he, as well as we, will need quite a bit of that.