New pope elected

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Local Catholics react to new pontiff

By Jason Norman

On Tuesday evening in Vatican City, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany became Pope Benedict XVI. Back in Suffolk, locals ushered in their afternoon, watching the newest pontiff address a cheering crowd from a balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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A close associate of the late Pope John Paul II, the Bavaria native was ordained in 1951, and appointed bishop of Munich in 1977, the same year he was elected to cardinal. He was appointed head of the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, and is the dean of the College of Cardinals.

One day after convening, the Roman Catholic Church’s cardinals elected their new leader.

&uot;It’s important for the continuity of the church,&uot; said Mike Kestner, a local Catholic.

&uot;I think that by electing the new pope so quickly that it shows unity among the cardinals. The church needs similar unity. I think he’s going to be a good pope. He’s a little more of a moderate, as opposed to a staunch conservative, which is good, since the church has changed a lot and has some problems it needs to resolve.&uot;

Ratzinger’s closeness to his predecessor was one reason that his election didn’t surprise Suffolk resident Marvin Spring, also a Catholic.

&uot;He was really close to Pope John Paul,&uot; Spring said. &uot;He took care of all the little nitty-gritty stuff for him. It’s good to see them get someone in there that I’m sure is going to do a good job. He looks like he’s in really good shape, and he seems very sharp and very active.&uot;

Benedict’s &uot;other&uot; precursor, Pope Benedict XV, challenged both the Allies and the Central Powers that they were committing a crime against humanity during World War I.

&uot;That indicates to me that he’ll be forceful against war, which I feel very strong about,&uot; said Lou Ruoff, pastor of St. Mary’s of the Presentation. &uot;I feel that he, like Pope John Paul II, will be strong on life issues, such as abortion and the death penalty. I respect their choice (for pope), because I believe the Holy Spirit works.&uot;