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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK
Philippines rejoices at new Pope
By Sarah Toms
BBC correspondent in Manila

Joseph Ratzinger
News of Ratzinger's election came after midnight to Manila
The Philippines has welcomed the Vatican's choice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as successor to Pope John Paul II.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo led the nation in jubilation after Cardinal Ratzinger was named as the new Pope.

Asia's largest Catholic country adhered to John Paul II's policies against birth control, divorce and homosexuality.

Church leaders say Benedict XVI must uphold those same values.

Traditional values

The death of Pope John Paul II and the assumption of our new Pope Benedict XVI, President Arroyo said, have served to unify not only the Catholic faithful but all those who believe in peace, brotherhood and harmony.

Church leaders here had made no secret of wanting the new Pope to stay true to the course of John Paul.

Eighty percent of the 85m people in the Philippines are baptised Catholics.

Most Filipinos agreed with the Pope's opposition to abortion, artificial birth control, the ordination of women priests and homosexual marriage.

Abortion and divorce are against the law here and condoms and birth control pills are unpopular.

Cardinal Jaime Sin, the former archbishop of Manila said he was very happy with the selection of his friend, praising Benedict XVI as bright and good.

The announcement came after midnight in the Philippines but mobile phone text messages raced around the country as people welcomed the late Pope's right-hand man, hoping that Benedict XVI continues the legacy of John Paul II.

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