Pope Charged With Shepherding Global Church||
With a stream of white smoke and the tolling of bells throughout the Vatican,
Catholic cardinals elected a new pope Tuesday to succeed John Paul II as the church's
Printer-friendly versions: PDF
new pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is a German cardinal who is credited
with championing strict Catholic principles but who has also been criticized for
alienating some members with his conservative views on issues like gay marriage,
birth control and homosexuality.
Ratzinger was elected after only two days
of voting by cardinals sequestered in the Sistine Chapel for the election. He
chose the name Pope Benedict XVI.
"Dear brothers and sisters, after
the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker
in the Lord's vineyard," Pope Benedict XVI told thousands of cheering supporters
from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
facing the new Pope|
As the new leader of
the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI is now the spiritual leader of the world's
1.1 billion Catholics. In that role he must grapple with controversial issues
facing the church including the church's zero-tolerance stance on abortion, the
lack of women in leadership positions in the church, its view of homosexuality
as a sin, and criticism over its handling of sexual abuse charges against priests.
Some Catholics, especially in Western Europe and North America, have accused
the church of having outdated principles when it comes to such issues. And, in
the United States, some Catholics have even left the church altogether, particularly
over the sex abuse scandal. They admonish the church for failing to expel priests
accused of pedophilia, instead reassigning them to other parishes.
facing the church is the question of whether or not women should be allowed to
become priests. According to Catholic doctrine only men can be ordained. But a
recent Gallup Poll reported that 55 percent of American Catholics surveyed said
the church's policy on male-only priests should be reversed.
Italian journalist Vittorio Zucconi, argue if the church refuses to ordain women
priests, it could face a crisis. He said because the number of young men going
into the priesthood is dwindling, women are already being forced to take on leadership
roles in the church.
"There are churches all over Europe that are without
a priest, where there are nuns who are celebrating whatever they can without becoming,
of course, heretics or being excommunicated," he said. "They're giving
out Communion; they're handling Church duties. So people are aware of the fact
that there are not enough young men who become priests.
Pope for the world|
The 78-year-old Pope Benedict XVI, who served as head of the Congregation of
the Doctrine of Faith -- an office charged with spreading church principles, has
worked in Rome since 1981, but now must find a way to reach out to Catholics around
Though Europe is home to the Vatican, Latin America, Asia and
Africa are home to the majority of the world's Catholics.
Like the hugely
popular Pope John Paul II, one of the most widely traveled and loved popes in
history, Catholics will look to Pope Benedict XVI to guide them in political,
social, economic and religious affairs.
you are a Christian in Africa, your main concern is about enculturation: How you
can be a Christian and still, say, be a Nigerian or ... Congolese or Ghanaian.
If you're from Latin America, your concern is going to be how can we talk about
the love of Jesus Christ in a situation of oppression and injustice? If you're
from Asia, your concern is going to be about inter-religious dialogue. In Europe
... it's a post-Christian context," Monsignor Liam Bergin, head of the Pontifical
Irish College in Rome, said prior to Ratzinger's election.
the new pope is, he is bishop of Rome, but pope for the world and he'll have to
balance the concerns of the continents and of the peoples."
Compiled by Kristina Nwazota for NewsHour Extra