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The Hard Line on Ratzinger

That didn't take long . . . Update: The editorialists weigh in!

3:00 PM, Apr 19, 2005 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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"Hard-liner Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics after the conclave of 115 Cardinals ended Tuesday evening."

--Newsweek

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a hard-line guardian of conservative doctrine, was elected the new pope Tuesday evening in the first conclave of the new millennium."

--MSNBC

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a strict doctrinal conservative who believes the church should hold fiercely to its fundamental beliefs against the pressures of secularism, emerged from St. Peter's Basilica as Pope Benedict XVI today."

--Ken Dilanian and Matthew Schofeld, Knight Ridder

Update, 4/20/05: "Some analysts describe Ratzinger as the leader of the neoconservative faction."

--Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio (April 15, 2005)

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the new Pope Benedict XVI, worked in close partnership with his predecessor and shared a belief in staunchly defending orthodox Catholic doctrine. There is no reason to expect any change, of course, for the church when it comes to matters like birth control, priestly celibacy or homosexuality. Those are issues of faith, properly left to the faithful. On matters of public policy, however, all of us have reason to be concerned about the opinions of the leader of more than one billion Catholics."

--Editorial, New York Times

"Roman Catholic cardinals reached to the church's conservative wing on Tuesday and chose as the 265th pope Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a seasoned and hard-line German theologian who served as John Paul II's defender of the faith."

--Ian Fisher, New York Times

"His experience under the Nazis--he was 18 when the war ended--was formative in his view of the function of the church, [John L. Allen Jr.] said. 'Having seen fascism in action, Ratzinger today believes that the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesiastical totalitarianism,' he wrote. 'In other words, he believes the Catholic Church serves the cause of human freedom by restricting freedom in its internal life, thereby remaining clear about what it teaches and believes.' Totalitarianism, indeed, critics might say."

--Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times

"Some liberal Catholics and interest groups criticized the choice as a lost opportunity to move the church in a less doctrinaire direction because the new pope, a conservative German who was close to the late John Paul II, has long held hard-line positions on many divisive issues, including birth control, homosexuality and the ordination of women."

--Dean E. Murphy, New York Times

"But as the international reaction to the death of Pope John Paul II demonstrated . . . the leader of the Catholic Church has extraordinary political and moral influence around the world. There are areas in which the new pope could have a tremendous impact, on both Catholics and non-Catholics, in this country and everywhere else, for better or for worse."

--Editorial, Washington Post

"The quick election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger speaks quiet volumes about what cardinals seek from the new pope: a stable interregnum after 26 years under the charismatic Pope John Paul II. Benedict XVI will hold to the late pope's theologically conservative line, but he won't do it all that long, giving the church a breather in which to plan its future. . . . The church is sadly putting off a change in worldview and retaining its Eurocentric focus. By failing to pick a pope from Latin America or elsewhere in the developing world, the church reinforces the impression that it is a colonial enterprise, run in Europe by Europeans who see themselves as uniquely qualified to serve as God's interlocutor."

--Editorial, Los Angeles Times