Andrew Medichini  /  AP
Newly elected Pope Joseph Ratzinger of Germany waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
updated 4/22/2005 3:52:36 PM ET 2005-04-22T19:52:36

MSNBC readers react to the naming of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI: (We are no longer taking submissions for this topic. Thank you for your thousands of responses.)

Love everyone regardless of religion
I have read something about the new pope in our local newspaper which is really not good. I am a Muslim, so the news hurts me -- from that news I have learned that the new pope is very conservative. Some years ago he said that "Turkey should not be included in the Europe, as it is a Muslim country." I think the new pope should not be like this. He should mainly look toward peace without thinking the nationality or religion, as he is the leader of the Catholic Church. I do not mean that he is the wrong guy to be a pope, but he should improve his way of thinking. He should think about not only about all the Christian people of the world but also every little human of the world as much as he can. He should try to make peace through all people of the world regardless their religion. That's all I expect from him.
--Pushpita Siddika, Dhaka, Bangladesh

A clear message
Those who think a 2,000 year old religion should change to fit their lifestyle or whim should think again.  It is a religion, not a political party.  It would be better for the Catholic Church to lose 90% of its members than to compromise its teachings.  The almost unprecedented rapid selection of Pope Benedict XVI is a welcome clear message from the Vatican that they will not compromise.  Pope Benedict XVI will not be popular with some, but we want a leader not a Homecoming King.
--R. Backous, Minneapolis

The wrong man
In this time of Religious Zealots terrorizing the rest of the world the last thing we need is a Catholic Church joining the party! I'm a Catholic but this is the wrong man for the Papacy. More friction, More hard-line beliefs, More confrontation, More unreasoned beliefs and a steadfast denial of reality is what this selection represents. 
--Sam Brey, Tampa Fla.

Trust in the Holy Spirit
We have been blessed with the gift of Pope Benedict XVI. I did not come to that belief easily, but I do believe it. Like so many other American Catholics crowding around my TV on the day of the announcement of the new Pope, my heart sank as I heard the word "Ratzinger". I thought to myself, "What were those guys thinking?" I was angry. I decided the Church (and indeed the world) would benefit so much more from a third world Pope, a Pope who was a little younger, or a Pope who held more charismatic appeal with the people. I have only ever lived under one Pope, and honestly, I wanted another Pope I could watch skiing down a mountain.

Then, I began to realize that I am one small Catholic in a very large church. I must trust that the Conclave has a clearer understanding of where the church stands, where it has come from, and where it is going than I do. Since then, I have opened my heart to Pope Benedict the XVI, and I have been richly rewarded.

We have a Pope who is strong, steadfast, and intelligent. From what we hear from others who know him, he is also witty, funny, tremendously kind, and sincerely humble. Clearly, the Conclave felt Ratzinger was the man for the job. We are called to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, as the Conclave did, and trust in their decision. God is the one who knows the future, not us, and the Conclave felt that God was calling Cardinal Ratzinger to be Pope.

What more confirmation do we need? At the time Pope John Paul II was elected, I don't know if anyone could have foreseen the far-reaching effects and blessings that were bestowed upon the world with his election. Why not give both God and Pope Benedict XVI the benefit of the doubt, and assume that God is capable of working through this man toward whatever vision God holds for us? Benedict XVI is seeking peace. He chose a name shared by the man who fought so passionately for peace during WWI. I, for one, share that vision, and I am thankful for our new Pope.
--Megan Curran, Golden, Colo.

Different pope needed for different world
As an American of German origin I am glad that a German, non-Italian pope was chosen. But my pride stops there. Although I am sure that Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) has given a lifetime of dedicated service to the church and many years of counsel to Pope John Paul, I do not believe that his ideals are in the best interest for the modern Church. I say 'modern' because as much as some would like to speak of 'returning to the old ways' and 'family values being Church/Christian values' it is impossible to ignore that we are living in different more modern times. Pope John Paul was heard and seen by more people than any Pope preceding him and, therefore, he was a bigger influence on the world than any Pope in the past century. The world is more all-encompassing. There are better lines of communication. This should bring about more interaction between cultures and ideas. This should bring about more understanding between people, regardless of faith, sex, or religion. The Catholic Church should not, and never will, lose it's own identity but it should understand that if there is a God and he has a purpose for everyone on this planet, then it is not any man's right to place judgment, labels, or criticism. The ecumenical counsel said it best that "in one’s own conscience one can find salvation."
--Suzanne Vogt, Philadelphia, Pa.

Choose to be Catholic
I am thankful that such a strong individual has been chosen to lead our church. I was raised a Catholic and continue to believe the church's teachings. I look to the church to provide an anchor for my faith. Am I perfect in my followings? Of course not, I'm a human being. However, it's comforting to have something to aspire to.

I am also thankful that I live in a country where I am free to choose this belief. No one is forcing me -- or anyone else -- to be Catholic. If I were to find that my beliefs were to change, then I have the CHOICE to align myself with another group who has similar views.

I wish others would realize that your religion is your set of beliefs - NOT simply the building where you spend an hour on the weekend and drop a few coins into the plate. If you do not share the same views as the Catholic church, please exercise your right to CHOOSE, and find a different group with which to affiliate yourself.
--Geoff Zimmerman, Manchester, N.H.

Liberal Catholic? No such thing
I'm dumbfounded at any feelings of disappointment about the new pontiff.  The so-called 'liberal' Catholics are not really catholic, and that's that.  They don't like what Catholicism stands for and speak out against the choice to make Cardinal Ratzinger the new pontiff, simply because he supports and will not waiver from the principles in the Catholic Church?  These people need to ask themselves why they continue to call themselves Catholics.  Liberal Catholic?  No such thing.  Long live Benedict XVI.
--Siobhan Steinsiek, York, Maine

Look out for the people, not the church
It's unfortunate that the Church is taking a step backwards rather than forward. Pope Benedict’s ways will be hard felt throughout the world. Whatever happened to "what is good for the people" rather than "what is good for the church!"
As a catholic, I am pro-choice, I support stem-cell research, and I support the homosexual community. Why should I judge these folks for what they want to do. Sometimes I just don't understand my religion. Doesn't the bible say, "judge ye not least ye be judged."
--Herb H. Calderon, Apple Valley, Calif.

A gift for the church and world
The election of Pope Benedict XVI is a tremendous gift for the church and the world.  Those who claim to be "liberal" Catholics never liked what Pope John Paul II preached either.  The former Pope spoke the truth and the new one will as well. Those looking to find justification for their liberal political and social views in the church are looking in the wrong place.  Their view of the world is the secularism, humanism and relativism that our new pope has spoken about and is warning the world about. In actuality, their views are not very Catholic at all. Their philosophy is devoid of God and does not recognize the truth contained in scripture and in Christian tradition. Thank God for a church and it's leaders who do not bend to the shifting winds of the world, and who are more interesting in pleasing God than man.
--Bob Keating, Waterbury, Conn.

Solid in his statements
With the exception of his stance on celibacy requirements and the findings of "Dominus Iesus", I heartily concur with the cardinals' choice.  Even though the Catholic traditions overemphasize the degree to which any priest or pastor ought to exercise authority, I believe Ratzinger will be a great warrior against incursions by relativists who would seek to govern the church from without.  Jesus himself never altered his statements based on popular findings; why should His church?  It is the truth that makes us free -- not public opinion.
--John Cargill, Libertyville, Ill.

Different times need different leadership
While the media has focused on only certain parts of Ratzinger's past, I think the liberal Catholics, like myself, will be further alienated from the Church than we are now.  We are not the "children" our parents were where they followed what the church said without question.  We look up to our leaders and ask "Why?" and EXPECT an answer.  This week's homily at the church I attended this Sunday spoke of Catholics as sheep and the Pope as our shepherd.  This sheep isn't going to blindly follow where Shepherd Ratzinger is going.
--Sara Butler Zalesky, Pottstown, Pa.

No confusion
I believe Cardinal Ratzinger's election to Pope is not only the right choice, but a bold one.  In today's world, we constantly struggle to see reason in the "smoke and mirrors" both liberals and conservatives generate.  To the point, most Americans, are fed up.  At least with Pope Benedict XVI there will be no confusion as to where the Catholic Church stands on such sensitive topics.
--Christian Fahey, Bayonne, N.J.

Careful to judge
As an American of German origin, I am very pleased to have been able to be a witness to this historic moment. But, I am upset by some of the negativity and shadows that have already been cast over this selection.

Just once in my lifetime I would like to see the true facts presented rather than the automatic assumptions that are made. But since that is what is taught, even our schools "history" books are slanted, it does not totally surprise me.

Being of German origin, educated in American schools, I often found myself "correcting" the misconceptions even to some of the teachers. Just because someone was a participant in the "Hitler Youth" or was a soldier in the German military during the 30's-40's, during the depression years, did not automatically make them a member of the Nazi party.

Having had relatives who were participants in both, I can testify that they were not "Nazis," although that label was immediately hung on them simply because the were "German." Being a Nazi meant a conscious decision to join that party and support its practices and beliefs just like being a member of the Democratic or Republican parties here in the US.

The "Hitler Youth", as it was explained to me, was a program set up to provide Germany's poor, malnourished and sickly children a way that they could be fed three meals a day and get physical exercise (something our/U.S. schools can't even provide and they are government subsidized also). I wish the media would stop living in their self imposed perfect glass houses and casting stones on others.
--Rene Ward, Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Admiration for Benedict XVI
I find it amusing that non-Catholics think they have any business commenting on the election of the new pope. Ditto those who call themselves "the faithful" but respect only such tenets as they personally choose from a smorgasbord of possibilities. And young people who say they "have a hard time accepting the leadership of an 80-year-old man" -- how arrogant -- such ageism from those who generally believe themselves on the cutting edge of sensitivity.  I'm an agnostic at best, but I admire those who, like Benedict XVI, have the courage of their convictions. Especially when those convictions are unpopular with the chattering classes (intellectuals and the media) and their allied arbiters of civilization among the public. I say, good luck, your holiness!  You're gonna need it. 
--Christine Harper, St. Louis

A slap in the face
I am mortified! I am so ANGRY I'm not sure I can express it in words. Ratzinger is the cardinal who in the 1980's banished all Dignity chapters from catholic churches and property. He is also the one who came up with the hateful language about gays and lesbians that we are "intrinsically disordered" and worst "evil" this election is a slap in the face not only of gay and lesbians but to women and other disillusioned Catholics, this election is NOT a hopeful sign for the future. I expect great chaos in the Church. God help us all!
--Kevin Hibner, Dayton, Ohio

In good hands
The future direction of the Catholic Church is in good hands. The Church has been allowed to drift into near apostasy through liberal mismanagement. The hand of Divine Wisdom is seen in the choice of His Holiness Benedict XVI.  Many of us have waited and been tried by the drifting of the post-Vatican II church and I for one see this as a step in the direction of sanity and proper submission to the will of God. It is clear that those who want to be Catholics of convenience will be disappointed that someone is likely to tell them that free will does not mean free license. This new Pope will be a strong hand but he has shown that he is a man of wisdom and tempered dedication to the self-evident truths that have become so obscured in American life. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to be the Bishop of Rome, and thereby Pope, by a collection of equals who have known and worked with him for years. Now the proper course for Catholics is to cheerfully support the decision of the Cardinals and assist in furthering the mission of the Church. Catholics may be assured that the constant complaints of murmurers and dissemblers will never cease. We as Catholics know that you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears.
--Peter T. Burke, Rockport, Texas

Was hoping for another
I was hoping for someone not only younger in age but in his views-someone from Central America to lead Catholics into today’s society. I pray that our new pope will be open to a new direction for Catholics.
--Christine, Frankfort, Ill.

Voice of youth
I am 21 years old and Roman Catholic. As a young, female, American Catholic, I am very glad to see such a staunch supporter of the faith elected as our new pope. We need a leader that will not sway on moral and theological issues. The youth of our nation especially need the unequivocal and unambiguous guidance of a prominent moral leader in a time when right and wrong are so often argued away as relative. I am a part of that youth and have found the media coverage these last few days disheartening.
--S. Miller, Tulsa, Okla.

If Catholic, abide like one
I understand that many think Ratzinger's conservative ways make him the wrong choice for the next leader of the Church.  However, just because the moral views of our society have changed, it doesn't mean the entire Roman Catholic Church needs to follow in lockstep.  I am Catholic, a young adult, and I do have difficulty believing all of the teachings of the Church.  But I am also relieved that if I go into any Roman Catholic Church in the country, I know what I am supposed to believe, and it is my choice whether to accept those teachings.  If you don't want to follow the Church's views, then you should find another faith that is more consistent with your views.  There are more than enough variations to choose from.  I don't think there is any "right" religion, but if you proclaim yourself as Roman Catholic, then you also need to abide by the Church's current theology.
--Suzanne Gaffke, Eugene, Ore.

Healing divided Church
I hope that the Holy Spirit will act through this Pope to heal our divided church. It seems to me that on either side of the Atlantic there are two churches: the old Catholic Church and the American Church. The Church will split in our lifetime if this healing does not occur.
--Michael O'Driscoll, South Orange, N.J.

Hold the hard-liner
I think Cardinal Ratzinger's election to Pope shows that the Church is not ready for any major changes in doctrine by bringing in such a "hard-liner".  I have mixed feelings about this.  I don't think the Church should make changes just because the times and values change.  This is an Apostolic Church; our faith dates back to the apostles.  But, something needs to be done to make the religious life a desirable life choice again.  We need priests and nuns!
--Lisa Terhorst, Paso Robles, Calif.

Sense of peace
After days of uncertainty following Pope John Paul II's decease, the news of Pope Benedict XVI's election has given me an enormous sense of peace, happiness and general wellbeing.  I trust Pope Benedict XVI will help straighten out the recent turns we have all taken not only as a global Catholic community, but as a human race.
--Carlos George Villalobos, Torreon, Mexico

My kind of pope
I am glad we have a Pope who seems to have the support of the Cardinals and the trust of our departed John Paul II. It would be so convenient if a father always said 'yes' to the demands of his children even when it is against house rules... but where is that father's credibility? The job of the then Cardinal Ratzinger was to uphold the truth and laws of the Church whether it pleases the Catholics all over the world or not. My kind of Pope is a rock I can lean on, a sanctuary I know who will weather all storms. It seems Pope Benedict is my kind of Pope.
--Maila T-M., Chicago, Ill.

It is God's will
I would've preferred a younger candidate be elected from Latin America or Africa.  I am Hispanic American and wanted the land of my ancestors to be represented in the Vatican and give a fresher, different perspective to the papacy.  However, this is God's will and I pray that God will guide and protect Benedict XVI.
--Angel Santana, Belvidere, Ill.

Hoping Pope Benedict XVI will preserve the faith
The demand for change in the West is quite worrying. As somebody from Africa who's lived in Europe for a while, I've witnessed first hand the dilution of the Catholic church and the resulting empty pews as a result of liberalism. We need a firm conservative Pope who will hopefully reverse the church to pre-Vatican II. Why should the next generation be denied the rich heritage of the Catholic church just because morals are decaying in the West? All my friends and family are hoping Pope Benedict XVI will halt the changes and preserve our rich heritage. The church will stand firm.
--Lillian Adyeri, Kampala, Uganda

Why are people quick to judge?
I am absolutely dismayed at the number of American Catholics who feel it is so important to judge our new pope, without even giving him a chance to show us what he will do. His former job was to literally interpret doctrine, and I would advise all the critics out there that  who for women priests, married priests, acceptance of gay marriage, etc, to actually pull out the Catechism of the Catholic Church read it from cover to cover.  We have had a horrible breakdown of our catholic teachings here in America since Vatican II and it shows in America's  selfish attempt to pigeon hole the man who became our Holy Father today. 
--Gina Amato Yazzolino, Portland, Ore.

A critical point
This is going to make or break the church. There are fractions within it and some strong leadership is badly needed. If a very hard line is taken then many will be lost from the church. If a program of solving issues comes from this with answers it will bring more to the church. John Paul II failed to address many of the issues in his last years. Now they are going to be addressed or people will walk away to find answers.

This is the most critical point in the church of the last 100 years. The church will either come into the 21st century or hit the slide into free fall. I worry that no one in the church understands the drop off in front of us. Two-thousand years of history will not save the church in today's world!

We must evolve and that requires change. Change has not been the strong suite of the church. So I will watch and wait to see the direction set by this pope. He faces the change issue as one who has not been active in that area. His conservative image is not the right one for today's church. I really do not see him changing and I see the church loosing.
--John Darts, Slocomb, Ala.

Trusting, hoping
I am a gay Roman Catholic.  I attend mass regularly and have a deep belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  People often ask me why I stay with a church that is so clearly opposed to my lifestyle.  I made a decision long ago that I would not let the powers that be discourage or throw me out.  I opt to work for change within the church.  While John Paul the 2nd was very conservative I still felt cared for by him.  I do not get this same feeling from the newly elected Pope Benedict.  I can only trust in the new Popes words: "The fact that the lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me."  In the end, the Holy Spirit is continually at work in the world and makes all things work for the common good.
--Mark Niezgoda, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Age can be a benefit
I believe Pope Benedict XVI is a great choice.  An earlier writer indicated that the pope's age may be a bad thing.  I don't believe that.  Perhaps his age was a benefit to his selection.  Perhaps this is a "transitional" pope.  The scriptures are, in my opinion, conservative in nature.  We don't need a pope to lead us down the path that our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion are going right now.  Once again in my opinion, political correctness has no business dictating church dogma.  Sure, there could be some changes that would make sense, but not in the name of political correctness.
--Mark Boyd, Omaha, Neb.

Don't jump to conclusions
I distinctly remember the hand wringing after the election of John XXIII, and NONE of it proved accurate.  I am tired of Catholics as well as non-Catholics who will find fault when a cleric reflects their own narrow liturgical point of view, and everyone else is wrong.  We cannot choose on that basis, we must look at the whole picture and decide.  There are problems in my church, but all I can do is pray for our new Pope, and see what happens.  Shame on the media for having already characterized him as a divider, to paraphrase P.T. Barnum, you can't please all of the people all of the time.  The Pope needs to right first, not popular first.
--Angelo Severino, Reston, Va.

A sad day
While I wish the new pope all of the best and am sure he is a competent and holy man, the decision by the college of cardinals to elect such a conservative man as the leader of the Catholic Church leads me further away from the Church of my birth and my family.  I had hoped for Pope who stressed inclusion and forgiveness --not more of the judgmental exclusionary policies of the last pope.  My brand of Christianity focuses on Christ's statements about not judging others.  I guess this is the clue that I needed that I need to find a new Church.  This is a sad day for me, but I will continue to hope and pray that the new Pope is a good steward for the Catholic Church.
--John Ryan, Bowie, Md.

Give him a chance
In electing Ratzinger pope, I feel that people need to give him a chance before passing judgment.  I feel that the younger generations has taken a turn for the worst in our country and I do not believe that it is because of anything the church has done more of lack of parents guidance. I do believe that churches across the country need to get the younger generation more involved and changing some of their ways to make it more appealing to youth to want to go to church. I feel some of the old ways are also good to because children are not children very long -- they are forced to grow up to fast in this world of sex and greed and no respect for adults. Give Pope Benedict XVI a chance. Are you perfect?
--Stacey Schwartz, Atco N.J.

A retreating church
I am dismayed. Having lived through and welcomed the opening of the church during the time of John XXIII to see the church retreating into the same hard line, pre-Vatican II mindset -- a church that so required the light of Vatican II -- is very disappointing. I feel that the cardinals have stuck a finger in the eye of those Catholics who have welcomed the changes in the church. In the words so prevalent in our domestic politics, he will almost certainly be a divider and not a uniter. I expect to see the most conservative elements in the church emboldened to make accusations of heresy in an attempt to silence those who think outside of their conception of Catholicism.
--Francis F. Quinn, Port Washington, N.Y.

Look beyond America's view
I'm sure there are plenty of American Catholics who are unhappy with the elevation of Benedict XVI. Cardinal Ratzinger is a man of the Second Vatican. Like the late John Paul II, he will continue to lead the Church through the storms of post-modernism. The Vatican has chosen a man who believes in the eternal truths of the Church, and he will continue to enforce the dogmas. The problems of the American Catholics tell us more about our own faithlessness than any problem with Rome. Pope Benedict XVI is just what we need here.
--J.P. Koch, Mishawaka, Ind.

A holy man
I had a brief encounter with Cardinal Ratzinger several years ago.  After he left our group I had a deep awareness that I had been in he presence of a holy man.  Twenty years later, I am certain there is plenty more holiness in this man now than what I experienced then.  Long live Benedict XVI!
--Raul Espericueta, Phoenix

Looking forward
John Paul II created many new cardinals only a few years ago.  These men are unknown quantities in the College of Cardinals.  During the probable short papacy of Benedict, the Cardinals will be getting to know each other better, the young and old, the newly-created and the veterans, assessing who will be the man -- likely young -- to lead the Church into a new era. He will likely be John XXIV.  There will never, I believe, be a John Paul III--a recognition of the fact that he was an incomparable man and Pope.
--Steven S Malham, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Truly guided by the Holy Spirit
Excellent choice. After the election of Pope John Paul II, I have come to have a lot of confidence in the College of Cardinals and I believe their decisions are truly guided by the Holy Spirit. If this decision causes indigestion for "Cafeteria Catholics" then they possibly should consider supping at a different restaurant.
--James Brezniak, Putnam, Conn.

Election questionable
Outside of Cardinal Ratzinger's qualifications, one would have to question the logic of electing a 78-year-old man to such a demanding position. Age clearly means nothing in the Catholic Church hierarchy. How many productive years do you expect from a man that age, who in every civilized nation would be long retired? There is a reason that government's and private business take age into consideration when it comes to work. Hey, there's nothing wrong with a senior citizen - 70, 80, 90-years old, working, if they are physically and mentally able, but running a behemoth organization like the Catholic Church seems to be stretching it a tad. I am totally against ageism, but this election seems questionable, at the very least, from a long-range planning standpoint.
--Steve Moore, San Diego

Proud German
I am totally beside myself of joy and delight that one of my own countrymen has become the new pope. I am a German immigrant-turned U.S. citizen and come not too far from where Benedict XVI is from. He comes from good people in Bavaria, the best! I am just floating away in a river of tears of joy and I am not even a Catholic, imagine that!  Heil dem neuen Papst aus Deutschland! Hail the new pope from Germany Amen hallelujah!
--Monika, Florida

Truly frightening
In an age where religious tolerance is being tested on a global basis due to terrorism and division among faiths, the election of a pope that appears to endorse a return to the "old ways" is truly frightening. In order to survive and overcome their many indiscretions the Church needs to embrace change, like allowing women priests, marriage among clergy, and encouraging open dialogue and guidance for youths in the church that live up to the reality of living in today's society. Unfortunately this pope has proven with his previous decisions and actions to support a rigid and doctrinal interpretation of canon law. History has proven that when such a stance was taken in the past humanity suffered papal decrees that served the church not the people (i.e. the inquisition) and the persecution of some of the worlds greatest minds (i.e. Magellan, Galileo) I'm not Catholic, but I tolerate and support individuals of all religious beliefs.  Unfortunately, with this pope, I fear my beliefs may not be tolerated in return.
--Stefanie Sheene, Buffalo, N.Y.

A step backward
As a Catholic, Ratzinger is a step backward. Ratzinger is too old. Yes, he has great credentials, but he is too old. If they wanted to have a Pope whom connected with the young populace and was as charismatic and worldly loved as John Paul II, they failed.
--Don Sutton, Long Beach, Calif.

A strong leader
The world is in the need of strong leaders.  As evidenced by the death of John Paul II one did not have to be a Catholic to understand what he meant to everyone during his reign. Our prayers now need to support the name of Pope Benedict XVI and that he will set his own charter and will have the support of the Church and world in the years ahead. A name sets a plateform for the history to be made.  May Pope Benedict XVI be one that we remember as a strong leader.
--Martin Launer, Rochester, N.Y.

Quieting dissent
In electing Ratzinger pope the cardinals have signaled that they are content to see the windows opened by John XXIII and the Vatican Council, closed by John Paul II, nailed shut by Benedict XVI. By their vote these Church leaders have agreed to let the number of priests continue to decline (there are 3000 Catholic Communities with no pastor in the US alone). They also confirm that the economic and environmental impact of their sanctions against birth control will continue, as will the spread of aides due to forbidding the use of  contraceptives. By their election of Ratzinger the cardinals have shown blind eyes to the scientific facts about homosexuality. Benedict XVI will continue as pope what he has done for over 20 years, namely stomp out any dissent voiced by more than 50% of the faithful.    
--George McCartin, Jacksonville, Ore.

Thrilling choice
I am thrilled with the election of Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope.  His tenacity in upholding the doctrines of the church, that is, upholding the veracity and authority of scripture, give me great hope in what God is doing in our day.  Salvation by the grace of God, only through the substitution-ary work of his son, can only be understood against the backdrop of real sin, real disease, and real tragedy.  The modern attempts to redefine sin, and consequently, the church, amount to a discrediting of the scripture and of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  If he was just a good moral example and can not, as God, forgive sins, and grant a righteousness that is from above, there is no true salvation and no really good news.  Be a good person is not good news.  I am confident that the new Pope will uphold these truths, long held by the church, so that the church can continue to offer true hope in Jesus Christ.
--James Cameron, Nassau, Bahamas

Great choice, age a concern
The only concern I have as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as our new pope is his age of 78 yrs. I know Cardinal Ratzinger is a humble servant of our Lord and has worked with Pope John Paul II.  His views on church unity is what Catholics need more now than ever.  I think our new Pope will prove to be the utmost servant of our people.  I am  however concerned about Cardinal Ratzinger's health and the longevity of remaining our leader.  I thought a younger Cardinal would be elected Pope. I am looking forward to our new Pontiff's reign and rule of our church. God Bless Pope Benedict XVI.
--Kristy Swaney, San Antonio, Texas

A continuation of leadership
I am elated to see the naming of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI because of his conservative approach to Catholicism. In other words a continuation of the leadership of Pope John Paul. It is important to continue the rigid teachings of Our Lord as a means of overcoming the push for liberalism by many within the Church. No amount of pressure should cause our Papal Father to succumb to a liberal view such as the government has with banning prayer and removal of the commandments from public areas. May God bless Pope Benedict and keep him strong and steadfast in upholding the teachings of the Catholic faith.
--Carlos Daigle, Youngsville, La.

Church at a crossroads
It bodes poorly for the future of the Catholic Church in the U.S.  The Church is at a crossroads where a majority of its faithful question official doctrine that they consider to be unresponsive to contemporary challenges.  Unless the new pope changes his colors, it is likely that his conservative stance will continue to alienate many members of his flock.
--Chip B. Goldstein, Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Change needed
Disappointment. I was hoping for a Pope that was futuristic and willing to take the Church into the Third Millennium. We will now continue to look to the past and hang on to beliefs that were created over time not by our founder, Jesus, but by men. Men who made numerous errors in judgment throughout the centuries including bigotry, murder, abuse, discrimination and more. This church needs to continue to encourage world peace among all nations and peoples, to admit to past discretions, and to continue the discussion of the uneven distribution of wealth in this world.  BUT we also need to assist the family by allowing and encouraging comprehensive birth control (even if prohibiting abortion). We need to have a 2-tier approach to the priesthood by allowing priests to marry and have families if they wish. We need to allow all Catholics their right to the sacraments. This church has always leaned towards punishing its members for its transgressions. I was hoping to see it lean towards love and acceptance.
--Susanne Reeves, Riverton, Utah

Wise for several reasons
It was a wise choice as Cardinal Ratzinger is one, of an age where he will not be pope for the tenure of Pope John Paul II and, two, had a close relationship to the former pope -- he won't bring about too many surprizes.  It is also history that a German would be Pope.  Lastly, there is no question is mind and intellect are up for the work at had.
--Hermann Kepfer, Los Angeles

Very disappointed
As a "lapsed Catholic", I was very disappointed that the cardinals chose an old, conservative and dogmatic leader of the Church.  I had hoped for some reform to follow the major teachings while allowing some room on the minor rules implemented by earlier popes for societal reasons.
--Jackie, Cleveland, Ohio

Divisive choice
The Catholic Church is going to sink under Ratzinger.  We have such a shortage of priests and religious as it is, and he is not going to inspire today's youth to seek religious life in the Catholic church.  He's more likely to drive them away.
--Ruth Brown, Lexington, Ky.

Great choice
Right On!  One of John Paul's closest advisors is a great choice. I am pleased. I give thanks to Christ Our Lord on High. Welcome Benedict XVI. God Bless You.
--Christina Painter, Dearborn, Mich.

Disasterous
As the coordinator of doctrinal witchhunts, Ratzinger's election as the next pope is disastrous for the Roman Catholic Church. Conflict looms.
--William Barnett, Syracuse, N.Y.

Age an issue
He is too old!  The church needs a pope that can reach out to the younger generation.  As a 24 year old, I have a hard time recognizing the leadership of an almost 80-year-old man, especially since the possibility for a long papacy is slim.
--David Barless, Garden City, Mich.

Church in transition?
His age is my main concern. A 78-year-old Pope makes it seem as if the Church were picking him as merely a transitory pope, much like John XXIII was. His knowledge of doctrine and his calm manner will make him popular, but he is also a traditionalist. We will see how he does in his term.
--Carlos Sucre, Chicago, Ill.

Outstanding
The choice was outstanding.  The church is a light and will guide Catholics.  This pope will continue the strong leadership we need in these trying times.
--Michael G. Hunt, Chickasha, Okla.

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