Tuesday, April 19

CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER ELECTED POPE

The white smoke -- initially confused as much too dark to signify blessed news -- began curling out into the open air above the Sistine Chapel at 11:49 am EDT this morning (5:49 pm in Rome). The bells began pealing shortly thereafter at 12:04 pm EDT, confirming that a Conclave of 115 Catholic Cardinals had arrived at a vote sufficient to elect, we subsequently learned, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German, and the man who delivered the moving homily during the funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II, the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Ratzinger has taken the name Benedict XVI. His election was announced and an introduction made for him by Cardinal Jorge Estevez: "I announce to you a great joy -- we have a Pope!"

Pope Benedict XVI becomes the first Pope of German nationality since the Eleventh Century.

The new Pontiff was born on April 16, 1927, in Bavaria. He is 78 years old. He is known for his strong conservatism and traditionalism, and has a professorial bent. He was very close to Pope John Paul II.

Thus, the first Pope elected in this new century is a German -- a century that follows a century dominated by the defeat of the evil fascism of Adolph Hitler and his ruthless Nazis Party, and which will forever be remembered ignominiously for the genocide known as the Holocaust. It's a blessed irony that must be the Lord's handiwork --in some symbolic way an atonement for the Church having looked the other way when the Nazis were running their death camps with gruesome efficiency.

I must say this: I am proud of my Church, proud of my faith, and comforted at the sight of the new Pope, watching as I was as he stood on the balcony of the Vatican Basilica and gave his first Papal blessing. There is something in his mien, his humble expression, that tells me the Conclave, with God's guidance, performed ably this day.

I am German-Irish and just a second generation American on my maternal side. And I have a son my wife and I named Joseph. How could I be other than thrilled with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's selection?

Besides, when I read this, I prayed he would be the one!