Benedict XVI has received the papal ring formally inaugurating him as Roman Catholic Pope.
The 265th successor to St Peter, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to extol traditional values.
He's already pledged to work for Christian unity and to pursue dialogue with other faiths.
His strict conservative views have been welcomed by traditionalists but treated with dismay by others.
What are your hopes for Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate? What will be the future of the Roman Catholic Church under his leadership?
We discussed the election of Pope Benedict XVI and the future of the Catholic Church on this week's Talking Point . Our guests were Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban and Crispin Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth. You can watch or hear the programme again by clicking on the links above.
Watch our special programme on the election of Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope with the Vatican expert, John Wilkins.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
The new Pope has likely been chosen to keep the Church grounded in its principles for the time being. There is no need to change the church drastically to accommodate the changes in people, when we could all agree that the changes in people's hearts and minds these days are not always for the better.
Kevin, Southfield, MI, USA
Over the past few years I have grown distant from the conservative Catholic Church. I thought a new Pope may bring the Catholic Church into the modern era but this Pope is not the man to do this. Catholicism will fade away slowly.
Steve Emerson, Dublin, Ireland
I'm disappointed the College of Cardinals made a no-brainer choice and didn't take the high road and select a pope from an area of the world that needs some attention brought to it (Africa) or an area of the world where a large population of Catholics resides to have their interests addressed (South America).
Ruth, Seattle, Washington, USA
Having been close to the former Pope, we have hope and faith that Pope Benedict XVI is capable. He knows the weak points of the responsibility he has just taken by having been a friend of the late John Paul II.He knows where to improve from where the Church was left by John Paul. May his work yield abundantly.
Ngigi David, Congo, Kinshasa
I'm absolutely delighted, and I pray for him. May God bless Pope Benedict XVI, and may he follow in the steps of his great predecessor.
Ann, Dublin, Ireland
Ratzinger may well be filling the role of caretaker pope, but the world should be extremely cautious in dismissing him as such - the last pope to be given that moniker presided over one of the most progressive periods of Catholic history in the twentieth century: the Second Vatican Council. This had far-reaching and long-lasting effects on Catholicism. Therefore, Ratzinger should not be underestimated in his potential to profoundly influence the Roman Catholic Church of the future.
A step backwards for the Catholic Church but, since he's 78, it doesn't look like he'll be around long enough to make too devastating an impact.
Asa Pillsbury, Ithaca, NY, US
In a world where fundamentally decent values are being eroded by an increasingly cynical and morally inept minority, we are in danger of losing our way. Pope Benedict XVI, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead God's people in the Way of Jesus. God bless our new Holy Father.
Paul Walker, Birkenhead, UK
I am not surprised at the Church's choice. However, I am disappointed. I believe it is time to recognize the contributions to the Church of the millions of Catholics living outside Europe. I also believe there may be a significant difference between "Church tradition" and the "Will of God" relating to many of the social issues of today. Recognizing the difference is not "conservative" or "liberal," but simply good old fashioned "commonsense."
Steve, Delaware, USA
I am pleased that the Church has not bowed to the increasing belief that modern ideals are better because they are modern. Traditions are not always invalid because they are old, and in electing His Eminence, Cardinal Ratzinger, the Church has not surrendered over a 1,000 years of ideals and has not compromised its integrity so that it might simply be popular. Ratzinger is both capable and true to what he believes, though he may not become the greatest Pope, he may make a good one.
Eamonn Guilfoyle, Coulsdon, England
I am also disappointed, not only that strong a dogmatic theologian has been appointed, but also that the cardinals and the faithful members of the Catholic Church really believe that a man like this can lead the world forward to becoming a place of integration, spirituality and peace.
Sahaja Yogini, Amersham England
As a Catholic and a woman I profoundly depressed at this choice. There was little hope for change - now there is none.
Laurie, Glasgow, UK
As a Catholic women, I do not feel excluded or discriminated whatsoever by my church. I am very happy that a prayerful, humble and intelligent man has succeeded John-Paul II. The Holy Spirit will continue to inspire the Church through Pope Benedict XVI.
Whilst lacking the charismatic leadership of John Paul II, the Conclave has selected a safe, albeit conservative, set of hands, to steer the Church. Given his age, his successor will be the true litmus test of the direction of the Church in this millennium.
I am of the opinion that any other person elected Pope after John Paul II would have a difficult rule considering the popularity of the former chief of the Catholic Church. However, though Ratzinger seems to be very well prepared as a priest, I think it is crucial for him to understand that this world would not stop turning because of his dogma and it is he who should adopt suitable reforms in the Church especially designed for the conditions of all believers.
A Romanian Orthodox, Bucharest
I too was hoping for a more progressive Pope that would be more liberal on abortion and birth control. The selection of Ratzinger shows how the Catholic Church is out of step with the modern world and its parishioners. If the Church is to regain the people it has lost, a new direction is needed, not a return to the past.
Dan Devlin, Allentown, PA
Praise be to God! To all non-Catholic critics: the Church and the Pope are not about popularity. It is absurd to suggest that the Church should conform to modern society when we know deep down in our minds that many of our acts today are wrong, Pope Benedict's election has strengthened my faith.
Andrew, Lagos, Nigeria
I welcome the new Pope. There is no room for modernisation of principles in Christianity; only the realisation that principles apply differently to different situations.
Carmelo Palmier Cecy, Zejtun, Malta
The Church requires someone to safeguard the teachings of Jesus Christ, being the son of God, at all times. Pope Benedict XVI will accomplish this mission statement. He deserves our prayers. God bless him.
A Powell, Malta
Just from an outsiders perspective, the election of Ratzinger does not seem like a large blow to the Church-goers promoting liberalization, instead, the appointment seems to be a sign that liberalization is around the corner, and the Church merely wants to put it off a couple of years and see if it can wait out the pressure (like many have noted, Ratzinger's age seems to imply he is indeed a transitional pope), so I say, keep the pressure coming and a liberal Pope should be on his way in the near future.
Christina, Ithaca, NY
I am concerned about limiting the election of the Pope, who is the leader of 1.1bn Catholics, in the hands of a few people. This is the time to think about a more modern and democratic method to choose a Pope.
Simon Joseph, Toronto, Canada
Not my immediate choice - a Pope from Latin America would have been nice. The speed, however, of Benedict XVI's election must be a good sign - obviously a popular choice! He has a great mind. I wish him all the best in winning hearts.
Rafael Donnelly, Thorney, England
I am so happy and strengthened in my faith to see the work of the Holy Spirit in our Church!
Jutta Clarke, The Hague, The Netherlands
I cannot be happier with the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as our new Pope. He is exactly the kind of spiritual leader we need: a man willing to face unpopularity to defend the doctrine of the Catholic Faith.
Christian, Santiago, Chile
This is an excellent choice. A clear message has been sent to all those who want liberalise the Church to meet their way of life.
TC, Borsad, Gujarat, India
Though I'm Orthodox, I've received this great news with vast joy. I'm happy that the new head of the ancient Roman Church is a man, well-known for his strong devotion to the dogmata of the Christian belief. May God bless him with sound wisdom and firmness in Christian belief!
Pavel Zinovatny, Moscow, Russia
In Joseph Ratzinger we truly have a man for all seasons. He will stand firm for the Catholic Church and its cherished values and traditions. Deo Gracias!
Keith Johnson, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Great - another generation damned to die of AIDS, be rejected as homosexuals or exhausted and impoverished through child-bearing. And all this from a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard.
I don't think it is my right to question the decision, but does it not occur to anyone that this Pope use to be a Nazi soldier?
JT, Indianapolis, USA
Avoid comparisons. Give Benedict XVI a chance to see his personality manifest itself in the papacy. He can only attempt perfection.
Al McDonald, Citronelle, Alabama USA
Now I know for sure that leaving the Catholic Church was a good idea. Incapable of reform, the Church has been a paragon of anachronism. It also shows that the Church has never been interested in its sheep, only in maintaining power at whatever cost.
Marton, Munich, Germany
Last week, our bishop announced the closing of a large number of parishes over the next five years as the number of priests declines dramatically. The Catholic Church in the USA is dying. It will be a mare blip on the screen of religion in America in twenty years unless mandatory celibacy is dropped.
Edward Byrne, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA
I have read with dismay Joseph Ratzinger's memorandum on Communion. To hold that abortion and euthanasia are wrong may be interpreted as holding to principles. To withhold communion from those who advocate contrary views goes beyond this to intolerance.
Jonathan, Nice, France
With his attitude to homosexuality and abortion, it sounds like we've got another intolerant religious leader determined to overpopulate the world with poor people. I look forward to being proved wrong.
John Mycroft, Asheville, NC,USA
As a gay Catholic, I had hoped that anyone but Ratzinger would be elected pope. I can't help but wonder if this is God's way of testing us.
Michael, Dublin, Ireland
I cannot believe that the election of a Pope is entirely inspired by the holy spirit alone if they could find a non Italian Pope for 450 years to lead the Church until John Paul II.
Louis Hormies, Darien, USA
God Bless the Holy Father. A true progressive in the sense that he wants a world where equality and poverty do not exist. Ave Maria.
Hanif Leylabi, Newcastle
I am glad that the Cardinals chose a conservative. I think people need to realize that you don't change a religion to fit your personal needs. That is the problem with my generation. We expect everything to change to suit our needs.
Bernadette Molina, Hollywood, FL, USA
As Christians, we must try to adhere to the principals of Christianity; the Church must guide us on this way. So the challenge of the new Pope is to provide us with this guidance, and not to ingratiate with those who try to mislead us questioning the core Christian values.
Andrei Mikhailov, London, United Kingdom
Benedict XVI is a good short term choice for the church. He will discourage moral relativism which has no place in Christianity. While politics maybe a forum for policy differences, morality has no place for secular democracy.
Matt E, California, USA
The Catholic Church once again is sending the wrong message and turning people away from its religion by electing a rigid, overly conservative Pope who is not much younger than the Pope who just died. They should have chosen someone more modern who reflects more compassion and acceptance.
Diane Raimondo, New York, USA
I write as a Methodist Minister. I am disappointed. We have had a conservative Pope for the past 27 years. Whilst JPII did a lot of good, there were, and still are, many areas which need addressing. I do not believe this will happen under the Papacy of Benedict XVI. That said, I wish him well, and I hope I am proved wrong. My prayers go with him.
Robin Fox, Liverpool, UK
As a Roman Catholic and a Capuchin priest I am very happy that the cardinals have elected an outstanding theologian, a man of prayer, deep faith and great wisdom. I think he will remind the world of the great value of the truth, which is something that we do not create but discover and which shines on the image of Jesus Christ.
Thomas Plonka, Zakroczym, Poland
I would have liked to have seen an African Pope, but as a believer I accept that Benedict XVI was chosen by the Holy Spirit and that God has his reasons. I'm sure the new Pope will do his best to lead the Church at a time when there seems to be a lot of confusion on moral issues. As he asked, my prayers will be with him.
Michela, Hampshire, UK
No matter who is chosen, there will be complaints, joy and disappointment from different people. The cardinals represent every segment of the society. They are sound in faith and understand the yearning of this generation. Don't just sit behind your computer and condemn them for their choice. Pray for God's guidance for this man instead.
Lai, Brooklyn, NY, USA
I accept Ratzinger as the new Pope. We should give him a chance. I'm confident that he will do a good job.
Toby, Berlin, Germany
I personally am not too thrilled with our choice of Pope, but I have faith that God has guided our Cardinals to the man who the Church needs most right now, in such an era, and if this is who God has chosen to lead His Church then I am happy to call Benedict Our Holy Father.
Amanda, Orlando, Florida, USA
The Roman Catholic Church is a living entity and as so it must change with the times. To elect someone who is unwilling to change could cause the Church to become out of date and less appealing to those who are already starting to lose faith.
Jeffrey Engle, Seattle, WA
This Pope was a close friend and support to John Paul II. The last Pope did a magnificent job and I am sure Pope Benedict XVI will do the same.
Rachel Bellerby, Addingham, UK
I'm not Catholic so I have no right to say who should be Pope, just like I have no right as a Brit to say who should be the President of the US. The cardinals voted according to how they felt the Holy Spirit moved them. A medieval Pope for a medieval church - it seems the Nigerian cardinal would have been even more conservative and divisive, based on his stated beliefs.
Peter Paddon, Los Angeles, formerly UK
I don't know why people are surprised at the choice of new Pope. Being a close friend of John Paul II he was an obvious choice. His ability to speak ten languages was probably also a consideration.
M Fernandez, London UK
I'm willing to give the new Pope a little time; as a human being, he's probably still in shock. As a priest, he has a big job to do.
Fiona, London, UK
To those who say that this was the choice of the Holy Spirit, can they explain why the Holy Spirit took a series of votes?
I am very happy with the decision of the College of Cardinals. Ratzinger will lead the Church in the way that it should be. The Church is not an organization that is willing to change its values to appease anyone. It is a Church and not some sort of club.
Nolan Hill, Calgary, Canada
If the Catholic Church was in the habit of getting with the times it would have spent its first few centuries supporting slavery and Roman gladiators killing each other for sport. The purpose of the Catholic Church is to change the culture, not adapt to it.
Christy, St Louis, USA
I am gay, I do not choose to be so, I was born this way. I was also brought up as a Catholic. But the head of my Church believes in the exclusion of the likes of me. Is that really what the Church should be about?
Becca, Oxford, England
I am disappointed by the Church's decision to elect a man who was once a member of the Hitler Youth. Ecclesiastical credibility requires consistent morality.
Dave, Acocks Green, UK
Contrary to popular belief, the Pope is not free to change established doctrine. He isn't free to change many of the issues that progressives would like to see changed. The Church is supposed to have only one set of beliefs. This unity is the very definition of the word Catholic.
Jeff, Franklin Furnace, OH
Pope Benedict XVI seems to be a choice which has riled so many people including sections of 'Catholics' themselves. He may have a tough time ahead keeping his flock together. God Bless him for the same!
Y Sunil Joy, Bangalore, India
I am deeply disappointed. I thought it was time for the Catholic Church to have a Pope from Latin America. I guess, the Church is not ready for a Pope from the developing world.
Maria Galvez, New York, USA
Thank God. This is one guy who will not change the church to match the times. God forbid the church should keep up with today's immorality!
Mary, Chicago, USA
I was surprised of the quick decision and also surprised of the short debate that happens between 115 or 117 church intellectuals. As good Catholics we have to support our Church and hope that Benedict XVI is blessed with the holy spirit.
Luis Rodrez, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
I can't believe some of these negative comments. The Holy Spirit has guided wise, holy men in the selection of a new pope, who is a brilliant intellectual, a teacher, and a fearless fighter for the truth. A huge mistake? Catastrophic? It is not the job of the church to pander to whatever moral liberalism is popular at the time. These are the teachings of the church, and if they involve sacrifice that is what Christianity is all about. I am astonished at these condemnations of Pope Benedict's papacy before it has even begun. God bless him and may the Holy Spirit be with him.
Vedrana, New Jersey, USA
I had hoped for someone who had contact with the average person, such as John Paul II when he was first elected. Instead we received an old man who has lived in papal palaces for decades. I don't understand how he can unify the Church and help it overcome its scandalous past, since he was part of the power structure that enabled those problems, but who am I to question the will of God?
Kristin, North Carolina, US
I was surprised that Ratzinger, as the frontrunner, would assume the pontificate, and with such a short conclave. That being said, Ratzinger is probably the best man for the job. He will likely be a caretaker pope, not likely to rock the boat, whilst the Church looks inwards to decide where to go in the wake of John Paul II. As a Jew with great respect for the Catholic Church, I agree that tradition is what holds a faith together and roots men of god. It is not the place of the Catholic Church, or any other religious institution, to simply adopt the latest popular idea. Ratzinger however is not as illiberal as some suggest, and is more open to discussion than the previous pontiff. A wise choice by the College of Cardinals.
Ben Gray, London, UK
As a young German protestant I am shocked to see how prejudiced many people react towards Ratzinger. Give him a chance. His biography proves he has faith, brain and heart. I am sure he will surprise us all by managing the transition everybody calls for and preparing a Third world papacy.
Jan Kritzer, Speyer, Germany
Almighty God has spoken through the Sacred College. The Holy Father must now call a 3rd Vatican Council aimed at reversing the grave damage that has been occasioned to the Faith by Vatican II. Prof. Andrew Miles University of London
Professor Andrew Miles, London, UK
The new Pope will have to face declining church attendance in the West and find ways of adapting the Catholic Church to the realities of advancing technology and increasing religious scepticism, especially following the widely-publicised sex scandals. The Church needs to be relevant else it will be relegated to Third World dioceses where people follow such barbaric practices as Easter crucifixion re-enactments and literal belief in heaven and hell and possession by demons. Religion is already under siege for its narrow-minded approach to human problems, growing fundamentalism and crass commercial competition for converts. If the new Pope cannot adjust to the new realities, we might well see the natural decline of the Church. If his conservatism overrides the need to accommodate the modern realities, the Christian religion will go the way of all religions that have preceded it. It might not be such a bad thing, after all.
George Dash, Canada
Give him a chance. He's the one Cardinal that we, in Europe, knew well. I think there could be some surprises. I'm not surprised that we have a non-third word Pope, rather someone to reinvigorate the Western church. God bless him and all those over whom he has influence.
Catherine Bassett, Harrow, Middx
It doesn't really matter where the pope comes from as long as he understands the needs of the Roman catholic Church. Although I really thought the new pope would be an African but I guess God had a different choice. I wish the pope Benedict XVI well in his great assignment.
Emeka Ogbuewu, Columbia, USA
Many have speculated that "change" would occur on the election of a new Holy Father, but what so many fail to understand is that Truth is beyond humanity, and we simply revel in its beauty. Pope Benedict XVI will remain true to the Truth of the faith, because the Holy Spirit demands it.
Jennifer, Milwaukee USA
While I had my doubts about his suitability prior to his election, we do have a pope to lead us forward. The pace of change may be less than many would want, but this should be reassuring to the more nervous factions of the Church. Remember that we only know Cardinal Ratzinger, we do not yet know Pope Benedict XVI. Despite his reputation as a fierce traditionalist, those who know him as a man talk of a quiet, contemplative man - above all a kind man - that, perhaps, is what we as a Church need above all. He has asked for our prayers, they should be freely given.
Eileen Toop, UK
The election of a conservative pope only means one thing: the gap between the out-dated and rigid views of the Catholic Church, and the reality and needs of the rest of world will grow even more for the next 10, 15, maybe 20 years.
As a young member of the Catholic Church who has only ever known one Pope, I think the election of a man who was close to Pope John Paul II is a good choice. People should not be so dismissive of the new Pope only hours after his papacy has begun. God bless Pope Benedict XVI
Andrew Pakes (14), Ipswich, England
Pope Benedict XVI will uphold the teachings of the Catholic church - that is all the Pope is there for. Talk of a radical Pope changing the Church's stance on issues are ignorant as moral truths never change.
John Lally, London, UK
I am ecstatic to hear that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is the new pope. For more than twenty years he played a leading and resolute role in the Church (with Pope John Paul II's consent!)and will certainly continue to do so. May God bless him and his leadership. Africa welcomes him. He is the right man at the right moment!
Johann, Pretoria, South Africa
What's done is done and we have a new Pope. As a Catholic I am not totally comfortable with some of the new Pope's previous pronouncements and I fear he will be a hardliner without the charm or skill to carry people with him. However, I'll give him a chance and pray that he can carry the Church forward and engage with the real world.
From BBCArabic.com:I may be dubbed a conservative, but as an Orthodox Copt, I think the Pope's views are in line with Jesus Christ's teachings. In the West, and especially the United States, many departed from his precepts. The Pope will have a tough job in uniting the Church and uniting its diverse cultures.
George Michael, Egypt
From BBCArabic.com:The appointment of a new Pope won't change anything. The Pope doesn't have enough power to implement his views. Jean Paul II, who opposed the war, couldn't do anything to prevent it. George Bush didn't listen to him, despite him being an ultra-conservative. As for his condemnation of abortion and homosexuality, I totally agree with him. My only disagreement with him is his stance on birth control.
Ahmed Humaidi, Leipzig, Germany
From BBCArabic.com:The new Pope's determination in unifying the Church will entail more attention to developing countries, especially in Africa. It's a continent that has become a fertile ground for proselytes from different religions. Also his views on burning issues such as contraception and HIV should be aired more clearly. These views will be met with fierce opposition by liberals and modernists. The Church will then find a supportive platform from poverty stricken countries.
Deen Kuri, Sudan
From BBCArabic.com:I hope that Pope Benedict XVI's stance towards the Palestinian question will differ than the one of his predecessor, especially regarding the holy sites of Palestine. These sites, such as the Nativity Church, are desecrated by the Israeli occupation. Jean-Paul II didn't do much about the Israeli army siege of the nativity church in Bethlehem when Palestinian youth sought sanctuary in it.
Girgis Saber, Egypt
From BBCArabic.com:I think that in this time and age, we need people like Pope Benedict to prevent vices from engulfing the whole world under the guise of globalisation and modernity. May God guide his path. We also want him to build bridges between all religions and advocate religious tolerance, for none of us has chosen our own religion. We only embrace the faiths we were raised to believe in.
Hussein Khalil, Lebanese in Kuwait
From BBCArabic.com:I am really surprised at Pope Benedict XVI's opposition to the ordination of women priests. What are women's rights associations doing about this? Mother Theresa proved that women are very much capable of occupying the high religious functions.
From BBCArabic.com: The new Pope is gifted with many talents and we pray he will use them wisely.
Paul Pole Baker, Farnborough, UK
This will take the Catholic Church backwards. What a blow to the liberals in the US and Europe. What a snub to the Latin Americans. I predict that this Pope will alienate the intellectuals and the human right activists and will turn the Church into the house of dogma.
Tiko Oleksyk, Frederick, MD, USA
If it was not the Lord's will, Joseph Ratzinger would not be named Pope. He has my prayers, as well as prayers from over a billion others, and I know he will follow what God has for him. I am very pleased and I trust he will be great.
Brent, Corvallis, OR
An intelligent man certainly. But a step backwards for the world. A defender of the faith that cannot possibly be of any help towards inter-religious dialogue. At 78 he may be just a transitional pope. But look what John XXIII did - and was 77 when elected.
George Ellis, Roma, Italy
I'm very disappointed. The appointment of Cardinal Ratzinger shows that the Roman Catholic Church is prepared to give no ground on any issue on which it sees itself to be right. This is certainly not a choice that will promote tolerance within the Church or towards other faiths. Surely even the cardinals can see that their religion is not adapting to the world, and now is openly refusing to do so by choosing such a conservative pope. I think it can only mean more troubled times ahead.
God bless the Holy Father. Whilst you have much to do, I know God will guide you help in the years ahead.
Adrian Hughes, Liverpool England
With Pope Benedict XVI we will be able to continue to stamp out the moral relativism that has spread here in the states and throughout Europe.
First Bush and now Ratzinger. The conservative reactionaries of this world have won yet another political battle.
How sad it is that critical comments are already appearing on this site about His Holiness Benedict XVI. So many people are jumping on the "arch-conservative" band wagon: oh ye of little faith! Who knows what the Pope has in store for the Church? Be respectful and time will tell.
G Walker, Newmains, Scotland
What, pray tell, does "modernism" and "liberalism" have to do with following Christ today or any other time? Thank You Holy Spirit for you guidance in selecting a new Pope. God bless him and God bless the Church.
Nina Khan, Sangre Grande, Trinidad, West Indies
This new Pope will certainly uphold the challenging but beautiful teaching on life and the human body of John-Paul II. Of course those who think that to "go forward" we must abandon all guidelines and ideals are in for a deception.
Gabriel, Montreal, Canada
God Bless Benedict XVI. Any reading of his vast array of theological writing reveals a man of deep faith, kindness and fidelity to the Word of God and the Catholic Church. He is the right man at the right time. Long live the Pope!
John G, New Jersey, USA
The Church should not now or ever bend to the will of the world. The Church was formed to save and convert the world, not to conform and bow down to the wishes of it. I am glad to see the Church remaining strong and steadfast in the teaching Jesus gave them.
Scott, Cape Coral, FL
Once again, the Third World faces alienation from the West. My dream of a Pope from the Third World was just a dream after all. My only hope now is that Pope Benedict XVI's priority will be to fight poverty, which he can do by seriously engaging the Third World cardinals. As an ex-seminarian and now a non-practicing Catholic, I hope the new Pope loosens his hardcore rightwing stance on issues such as abortion and condom use.
Ken Jawoko, Toronto, Canada
Well, it's hardly surprising that it's a man who shares the same conservative views as John Paul II. After all, John Paul II appointed many of the cardinals who elected him. What a system - no wonder the Roman Catholic Church is one of the world's least progressive institutions.
Patrick Williams, Cieszyn, Poland
So many people are now attacking this Pope at his very start. It is so easy to forget that John Paul II was also labelled as too extreme in matters of doctrine. Yet he brought the entire world to his funeral, encompassing Muslims and Jews, Anglicans and Orthodox, believers and atheists. We shall see new surprises for the Church and the world by means of this great, and yet fragile, man.
David Calder, Mexico City, Mexico
I am very happy that we have Joseph Ratzinger as a new pope. Benedict XVI will take care about the peace in the world and do not let us forget about the basic truths.
Elzbieta , Poland
I've read several of his books. A perfect choice - just what the Catholic Church needs. I will pray for him.
Leonard, Madrid, Spain
Was a bit surprised in the end but had expected it. I am not really interested in matters concerning the Church but I hoped at least for all the Catholics that the Pope would be someone young, liberal and someone who is willing to change something. But Ratzinger surely is a kind and very intellectual person, so at least he can discuss some philosophical matters.
My number one choice was Cardinal Arinze. But we have a conservative so I am happy.
Donald Casillo, Moore, Oklahoma, USA
I am not a Catholic but why a 78-year-old? And why do it so secretively?
Julie Manimba, Kampala, Uganda
If there is one thing the world could do without it is a Catholic leader with an uncompromising stance.
Michael, London, England
I am not very pleased to have a traditionalist and conservative Pope. Let's hope this does not create any divisions or promote intolerance against other religions.
Lili, Monterrey, Mexico
The Church is led by men helped by God. Whatever the weaknesses of the new Pope, let us trust in the might of our Lord Jesus Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit. I think we have to invest more hope in heavenly strength than in a men's abilities, though they are indispensable.
Epimaque Nikobitungwa, Iringa, Tanzania
I am truly disappointed. I do hope that this will be the last conservative Pope in our church history.
Mariliz, Los Angeles, USA
The opportunity is not lost, merely postponed. His age may indeed have been a factor, in that it increases the probability of another conclave well inside the next decade.
JK, San Diego, California, USA
I am very happy about the new Pope, but quite dismayed about media reports which focus on the supposedly liberal versus conservative divide. What we have to remember is that we Catholics believe that the papal election is guided by the Holy Spirit and is therefore God's will. It can only be a time to celebrate.
Shaun SC, London
Why never a black Pope? What have we Africans done to deserve this?
Joseph Mwanga, Nigeria
The election of the Pope is a good way of showing unity in the Church. There is only one truth, and it does not bow to society. Those who truly follow the Lord know that one must not bend one's morals for the times but stand firm through it all. I wish the Pope a successful tenure.
A missed opportunity. I fear the religion will continue to be reactionary, exclusive, intolerant and out of touch with reality. The Catholic Church is no place for free thinkers. Very sad.
Howard, Sussex, UK
As a Catholic college student, I am thrilled that Joseph Ratzinger has been chosen! I think it is important during a time where there are so many external pressures that the Church remains conservative and stay consistent with the Church doctrine. God Bless Pope Benedict XVI!
I'm a non practicing Catholic - of Polish extraction at that - and the reason I stopped following the religion of my christening was because of its conservatism and lack of connection with reality. I was really hoping they'd elect the Nigerian cardinal, who seemed a decent man in touch with the people. This will only alienate more young people from the Catholic Church - and what message does it send to women, and to what help does it give to stemming the tide of Aids in Africa?
Chris, Edinburgh, UK