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This item originally appeared in the April 28, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old German-born cardinal, and the Vatican's guardian of religious orthodoxy, was expeditiously elected after the death of Pope John Paul II Tuesday, April 19, by the College of Cardinals as the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

He chose the name Pope Benedict XVI. This name has not been used for 83 years, since Benedict XV died at age 67.

"We lost our leader [John Paul II], who had been with us for 25 years, but we are blessed to have someone who was so close to him follow in his footsteps," Father Gary Berherdt, a pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, located at 810 Carey Ave., said.

Benedict XVI is the former archbishop of Munich, Germany and is the oldest pope elected since the 18th century. According to an article on, he is one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, and is widely acknowledged as a leading theologian.

"I'm unsure how Pope Benedict XVI is going to lead the Church, but he has been in the midst of much that has happened over the past 25 years with John Paul II, and understands the mind and thoughts of John Paul II," Berherdt said.

He also said Benedict was very involved in the policies of the Vatican and will offer the church many opportunities to continue with programs Pope John Paul II set in place.

Berherdt said the Catholic Church comes from a rich heritage and traditions, and the election of the new pope has been a great learning experience for all those who have not seen the papacy's election process.

"Pope John Paul II was the only pope I ever knew; it was very exciting to actually witness a 2,000-year-old tradition," David Wood, a senior history major, said.

"The Holy Spirit leads, and I pray that Benedict XVI will follow the direction of the Spirit," he said.

Wood also said the church lost a great man with the death of Pope John Paul II, but he is happy a new leader was selected so expeditiously.

Megan Jurkus, a junior speech major, said she was taught about the whole election process of the pope in high school and in Catechism classes.

"It's awesome to actually watch what I learned about so many years ago," she said.

Jurkus said she wanted Cardinal Francis Arinze to succeed Pope John Paul II, but electing a pope from Germany might be good for some tensions in Europe right now and for the Catholic Church.

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