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    Pontiff Picked

    (19th April 2005)

    SMILING new Pope Joseph Ratzinger greets ecstatic crowds in Rome after being elected by fel- low cardinals yesterday.

    The 78-year-old German forced into the Hitler Youth as a boy - waved as 100,000 in St Peter's Square chorused: "Papa! Papa! Papa!"

    There were also football-style chants of "Ratzinger! Ratzinger!" for the ex-World War II enemy soldier who will be known as Pope Benedict XVI. He emerged on to the balcony of St Peter's Basilica with his hands aloft and flanked by red-hatted cardinals.

    He won their vote on the second day of the conclave to find a successor to the late John Paul II.

    White smoke from the chimney of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel trumpeted the election, although initially there was confusion.

    For more than ten minutes it looked grey. Black means no successful vote.

    The pealing of St Peter's bells just before 5pm (6pm Italian time) ended the uncertainty. Nuns raced to join the throng habits flapping behind them.

    The 265th pope told Catholics: "The cardinals have elected me a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard."

    The Queen and Tony Blair last night sent their best wishes.

    Staunch conservative Ratzinger was born in the Bavarian village of Marktl-am-Inn, where last night an oompah band played and free beer flowed.

    He was 14 when forced to join the Hitler Youth. He later manned a German anti-aircraft battery before deserting.

    the pope
    Benedit XV

Proud Line of Leaders

(19th April 2005)

    THE new Pope takes his name from St Benedict.

    Born into Roman nobilny in 480, he lived as a mountain hermit before founding the famous monastery at Monte Cassino, Italy.

    He founded 11 more while surviving an assassination attempt by blessing a poisoned cup.

    Benedict I, the 62nd Pope, came to power in the year 575 but his four-year reign was troubled by war and famine.

    Benedict was strangled by a mob in 974.

    The last namesake, Benedict XV, suggested a Christmas truce during the First World War in 1914 accepted by the Germans but snubbed by the Allies.

    In 1917 he called on all nations to end "the futile slaughter". He died in 1922.



Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican appoints 'God's Rottweiler' 265th Pope

    Biog. | Pope Benedict XVI

      February 2013: Pope Benedict XVI is to stand down as leader of the Catholic church, he announced Feb. 11, 2013.

    In a decision that has shocked even his closest aides, the 85-year-old Pontiff said his health was 'no longer adequate to continue in office due to his advanced age'.

    He announced his resignation in Latin to a meeting of Vatican cardinals this morning, emphasising that leading more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide requires 'both strength of mind and body.'

    The Pope's decision is unprecedented. He is the first to resign since Gregory XII in 1415, but no Pontiff in history has stepped down on health grounds.

    Recommended Reading: Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times


      The white smoke came much sooner than expected, puffing gently from the Sistine Chapel into the early evening sky.

    (19th April 2005)

    Then, in confirmation, the bells of St Peter's Basilica began their joyous toll, their peals echoed by ecstatic cheers from the crowd below.

    But still the identity of the new Papa, the world's most revered religious figure, remained a mystery.

    Would it be the favourite, Nigerian Francis Arinze? Or Italian frontrunner Dionigi Tettamanzi?

    Finally, after less than two days of deliberation, the waiting ended.

    Chilean cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez stepped on to the St Peter's balcony to declare:

      "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus Papam" - Latin for "I announce to you with great joy, we have a new Pope."

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, widely touted as the next man to lead the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, became the 265th Pontiff.

    The hard-liner has earned the nicknames "God's Rottweiler" and "Panzercardinal" due to his forthright, strictly orthodox views.

    But the crowd chanted his name. If this was a controversial selection, they kept their fears and reservations well hidden.

    Instead the new Pope witnessed a great celebration.

    A moment of unrestrained joy much needed after the curtain of grief which has hung over the Vatican since John Paul II's death on April 2.

    Minutes after his selection, the man now known as Benedict XVI appeared on the balcony to greet the throng. With his face wreathed in smiles, his hands outstretched, he got his first taste of the adoration his predecessor had come to know so well.

    He was doubtless aware he has a hard act to follow.

    And he knew full well many may judge him over his upbringing in Nazi Germany, when he was briefly conscripted into the Hitler Youth.


    But his witness to those terrible times went unspoken amid the joy.

    Clad in papal vestments, the German Pontiff, an intellectual who speaks four languages, delivered his first blessing in Italian.

    Translated into English, his words began:

      "The cardinals have elected me a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard."

    Though Benedict was always a leading contender, his appointment will nevertheless surprise those who felt the Catholic church would take a more liberal line in the 21st century.

    In the 1980s he described homosexuality as an "intrinsic moral evil" and said rock music could be a "vehicle of anti-religion".

    He has also criticised the introduction of the non-Latin Mass as a "tragic breach".

    A liberal he is not. And it is feared the debate on contraception, divorce and women in the church, stifled by the previous Pontiff, will fare no better under the new one.

    Many expected a younger man to be selected. But though the cardinals' decision was swift, it was not rash.

    Benedict is highly respected, has been in the Vatican for more than two decades and became one of John Paul II's closest allies.

    His other nicknames include "Vice Pope" and "John Paul III".

    Many see him as the man who will be able to put the Catholic church back on track during turbulent and confusing times.

    And he is the only cardinal to have a fan club on the internet.

    Benedict was born in Bavaria on April 16 1927. Though the Ratzinger family came from a traditional farming background, his father worked as a policeman.

    Young Joseph was just six when Hitler came to power. He was sheltered from the Nazi movement by his father, who moved the family several times in an attempt to escape Hitler's tentacles.

    When his father retired in 1937. the family moved to Traunstein, a staunchly Catholic Bavarian town.


    Joseph joined the Hitler Youth in 1941, shortly after membership became compulsory as World War II raged. Two years later he was sent to join an anti-aircraft unit.

    The new Pontiff insists he never fired a shot.

    And in April 1944, after being sent to Hungary, where he saw Jews being herded to death camps, he deserted. His elder brother Georg, who was ordained as a priest in 1951 at the same time as Joseph, said that resistance to joining the Hitler Youth movement was "truly impossible".

    And the Pope's supporters say that his experiences under the Nazis convinced him of the church's role as the guardian of truth and freedom.

    Benedict, whose inauguration will be on Sunday, rose through the church's ranks to become Dean of the College of Cardinals.

    As such. he presided over John Paul's funeral mass.

    He is the oldest cardinal to be named Pope since Clement XII, who was also 78 when he stepped up in 1730

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