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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 22:00 GMT 23:00 UK
World reaction to Pope Benedict
Catholics around the world have been reacting to the election of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope, Benedict XVI. BBC correspondents assess the mood in key cities:

BERLIN

The public response to Cardinal Ratzinger's election has been a mix of amazement and delight.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he was a renowned theologian and that his election was an honour for Germany.

Other political leaders have also voiced pride in the first German pontiff in centuries.

In Munich, where Joseph Ratzinger is archbishop, a special service was hastily arranged at the cathedral while students cheered at the seminary in Bavaria where he once studied.

But many liberals in Germany have deep reservations about the new pope. A recent opinion poll in respected news weekly Der Spiegel showed a third of Germans did not want Cardinal Ratzinger to be elected.

Germany is where the Reformation started - and the strong ecumenical movement among German Catholics had hoped for a more liberal pontiff, able to reach out also to this country's large Protestant community.

Ray Furlong

SAO PAULO

Some in Latin America will be mildly disappointed with this choice.

There had been talk of a first-ever pope from the developing world. Cardinals from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Honduras were among the names being mentioned.

But instead, the new man is an established figure from what many here still see as the Old World.

Joseph Ratzinger has something of a history in Latin America. In the 1980s, he was asked by John Paul II to investigate liberation theology, a form of Catholicism which said the Church had a duty to liberate the poor from oppression.

To the then Pope, that sounded dangerously Marxist. Cardinal Ratzinger publicly criticised the movement's leaders and he concluded liberation theology was a fundamental threat to the Church.

Over time, bishops who were sympathetic to the movement were replaced with more conservative figures.

Today, Brazil and Latin America are still scarred by the deep poverty that gave rise to liberation theology. To win support here, the new Pope will need to show a firm commitment to social justice.

Others will wonder how strictly Joseph Ratzinger will enforce his own, very traditional, beliefs on moral issues, notably contraception.

Under John Paul II, some Brazilian priests discreetly defied the Vatican by supporting the use of condoms.

Steve Kingstone

LAGOS

Catholics in Nigeria make up just 10-15% of the population. Nonetheless, it would still have been a boost to national pride if 72-year-old Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze had been elected Pope.

It would also have been a recognition of the global shift in the growth of Christianity away from the developed, and towards the developing, world.

Officials at the Catholic Secretariat in the commercial capital, Lagos, nonetheless refused to sound downcast that one of their own had not been chosen.

"The Catholic Church is not a political body or association, but a family," communications officer Felix Ajakaye said. "And so we will appreciate the new pope wherever he comes from."

It's a common view in Nigeria, where many Catholics in the run-up to the conclave told the BBC they felt whoever God chose was right for the job - even though a few wondered whether racist attitudes in Rome would prevent an African getting the job.

Cardinal Arinze was frequently mentioned as one of the papal front-runners. His conservative theology mirrors that of his mentor, Pope John Paul II, while he has strong inter-faith mediation skills and 20 years' experience in the Vatican.

But while the wife of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had urged Catholics to pray for Cardinal Arinze's election, few here really believed he would ever be chosen to head the church.

Anna Borzello

WARSAW

Church bells began ringing across the country as the news broke.

Even the massive Zygmunt bell in the cathedral of John Paul II's old home in Krakow tolled. It is only ever rung on very special occasions.

In the northern port city of Gdansk, a siren sounded for three minutes. The Polish parliament, the Sejm, stopped work. The reaction here was one of happiness but also a little sadness. Many here are still mourning "their" pope.

Newsreaders made a distinction between the "new pope" and "our pope".

But Church leaders, analysts and politicians, at least, were united in opinion. Almost everyone said the election of Cardinal Ratzinger represented a continuation of John Paul II's policies.

Pope Benedict XVI was one of the late pope's closest advisers and the pair shared orthodox views on Church doctrine.

"The Polish Church is happy with this choice," said the president of the Polish Episcopate, Archbishop Jozef Michalik. He added that the new pope was "the most outstanding theologian".

"This is a good choice. He will continue the mission of our dear Pope," said former president and hero of the Solidarity movement Lech Walesa.

In the capital, Warsaw, people went to church to pray for the new pope.

"People got used to the openness of John Paul II's pilgrimages and they have great expectations," said Magda, a student. "But we shouldn't make comparisons because he's the pope of everyone," she added.

Another student, Marcin, said the new German pope might attract new believers to the Catholic Church as there were many Protestants in Germany. "I think he will be a good pope because he was a friend of John Paul II," he said.

Adam Easton

MEXICO CITY

Mexico seems rather despondent at the election of Cardinal Ratzinger.

Many people here had thought that this was the time for a pope from Latin America, given that half the world's Catholics now live in this region.

The archbishops of Mexico City and Tegucigalpa in Honduras had been in with a chance.

But the newspapers are united in their headlines, saying Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger will be a "hardline" pope.

One has a cartoon with a play on words of the new Pope's title, Benedicto XVI, with the phrase "Welcome (Benvenutti) to the XVI Century".

The experts are united in their view that his election is, on the whole, bad for Mexico.

In their opinion, his orthodox and authoritarian approach will do little to halt the rising tide of Protestant converts and the increasing secularisation of society.

On the streets of the capital, the mood seems to be the same.

In the words of one man, " I think Maradiaga [of Honduras] would have been cool. He would have been more progressive."

Another woman says, " Well, it just seems that the traditional conservative route has won. What a shame."

Claire Marshall

ISTANBUL

The election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy has been greeted with dismay in the newspapers of Turkey.

Many of them report remarks that the new Pope made last year, stating his opposition to Turkey's membership of the EU and his suggestion that the country was better suited to join with Arab countries.

"The new pope is an adversary of Turkey," runs one headline. "The new pope was Turkey's last choice," reads another. "Anti-Turkish Cardinal elected Pope," runs a third.

Pope Benedict is described as being known for his anti-Turkish views on the strength of a forthright interview he gave a French newspaper last August.

Then, he said that EU membership for Turkey would be a cultural loss for Europe in return for economic benefit.

Turkey, he said, sees itself as a secular state, but is actually an Islam-based country.

It should, he said, try to establish links with Arab countries.

The pope, of course, does not have a direct role in European decisions on who gets membership.

But Turkey's opinion-formers at least appear convinced that Cardinal Ratzinger's elevation to the papacy is bad news for Turkey's hopes of joining the EU.

Jonny Dymond

MANILA

The Philippines has welcomed the Vatican's choice of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger as successor to Pope John Paul II.

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

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

The succession, she said, "served to unify not only the Catholic faithful but also those who believe in peace, brotherhood and harmony with other nations and faiths".

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

About 80% of the 85 million 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, former archbishop of Manila, said he was very happy with the selection of his friend praising Benedict XVI

Sarah Toms




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