April 19, 2005
GL and cheers!!Thousands Cheer in St. Peter's Square as New Leader Emerges
[size=-1]By IAN FISHER [/size]
ATICAN CITY, April 19 - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope today, taking the name Benedict XVI, after the tolling of bells rang out over St. Peter's square and white smoke drifted from a Sistine Chapel chimney signaling that the cardinals meeting for a second day had chosen a new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
The new pope then appeared on a balcony overlooking the square as thousands cheered below.
It was a moment that thousands of people in St. Peter's Square had been waiting for. Long streams of Romans hurried to St. Peter's Square and horns blared as people rushed to learn who was selected. People cheered and clapped at the white smoke and deep resonating ringing of the bells, signs that the Vatican had said would indicate that the new pope had been chosen.
There was a lag of several minutes between the appearance of a first wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and the ringing of the bells, adding to the uncertainty that many people waiting in the square had endured this morning, and after the cardinals started their conclave on Monday afternoon, when there were questions about the color of the smoke.
But several minutes after the first wisps appeared this afternoon, the bells started to toll, swinging heavily back and forth. The crowd raised their hands, cheered and clapped.
Earlier in the day, black smoke rose from the chapel, telling the crowd on the square that cardinals locked inside had taken two more votes and not chosen a successor.
Of eight conclaves since 1903, only two earlier ones had ended after two days, the last in 1978 when Cardinal Albino Luciani, patriarch of Venice, was chosen and took the name John Paul I.
He was considered a favorite going into the conclave. This time, the leading figure has been Cardinal Ratzinger, John Paul II's hard-line defender of church doctrine. Vatican experts had said opposition to Cardinal Ratzinger was strong going into the conclave, but there appeared to be no obvious compromise candidate. Two thirds, or 77 votes, was needed to become the pope in the early stages of voting.
In keeping with centuries of tradition, the cardinals were locked away to choose a new leader for the Roman Catholic Church and its 1.1 billion members. Their deliberations are also, in theory, completely secret, so not only are the ballots themselves burnt but also any notes taken during the session.
As on Monday, St. Peter's Square welled with thousands of spectators - nuns, priests, tourists, Italians. The faithful debated whether it should be a conservative or a moderate; an Italian or Latin American; Cardinal Ratzinger, or someone of his choosing, or someone opposed to him and his more doctrinal beliefs.
"It's a little bit nerve-wracking," said Patrick Harvey, 40, of Washington, D.C., a Catholic who happened to be in Rome and has gone to the square to watch the smoke both times. "It's a very pivotal time for the church whether it will go to the left or the right or the center."
One of the closest collaborators of John Paul II, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger has been the Church's doctrinal watchdog since 1981. He has been described as conservative, and as the current Dean of the College of Cardinals he is widely respected for his uncompromising if ultraconservative principles and his ability to be critical.