Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a long-time guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy, has been elected pope this afternoon in the first conclave of the new millennium.
He chose the name Pope Benedict XVI.
Ratzinger emerged onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, where he waved to a wildly cheering crowd of tens of thousands and gave his first blessing as pope.
Other cardinals clad in their crimson robes came out on other balconies to watch him.
“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me – a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord,” he said.
“I entrust myself to your prayers,” the pope said.
Ratzinger, the first German pope in centuries, served John Paul II since 1981 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In that position, he has disciplined church dissidents and upheld church policy against attempts by liberals for reforms. He turned 78 on Saturday.
The new pope had gone into the conclave with the most buzz among two dozen leading candidates.
He had impressed many faithful with his stirring homily at the funeral of John Paul II, who died April 2 at age 84.
Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me – a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.
“The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.
“In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, we go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary, his very holy mother, stands by us.”