Posted on April 19, 2005

Profile: Pope Benedict XVI

Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI, Apr. 19

German Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI Tuesday.

Ratzinger, who turned 78 last Saturday, was viewed as a favorite to succeed Pope John Paul II who died earlier this month.


A theological liberal of sorts in his youth, Ratzinger was later nicknamed the “Panzerkardinal” for his iron hand in bringing Marxist priests in Latin America and clerics with more-liberal views on sexual ethics to heel.


Like John Paul, Ratzinger considered evangelization and fidelity of faith the church’s top priority, especially in the light of the growth of Islam in Europe and particularly in Italy where it is estimated to be the predominant religion in as little as 20 years’ time.

“In this situation, we need someone who is forthright in what the church teaches. We need consistency in our teaching, otherwise Muslims will not listen to us,” the Rev. Anthony Figueiredo, a former secretary of John Paul II, said earlier this month. “That’s why Ratzinger is so important — he will not flinch.”

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Islam Presents Key Challenge For Pope, Scholars Say

Betsy Hiel, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Apr. 17

ROME — While Catholic faithful speculate on how cardinals will vote in their secretive conclave starting Monday, church scholars ponder the issues facing the next pope.


Yet some cardinals and others in the Vatican hierarchy fear Europe, a center of Christianity, is becoming an Islamic outpost. Still others see religious liberty as an issue to be resolved with Muslim religious and political leaders; they point out that Saudi Arabia funded a mosque in Rome, but bans churches within its own borders.

While some cardinals offer a conciliatory approach to Muslims, others “tend to talk about Islam as though it is a block, and that’s a problem,” according to Madigan.

On the fault line of this debate is German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 77, the powerful head of the Council of Cardinals. He directs the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and is one of the Catholic Church’s most conservative voices.

Ratzinger caused a stir during debate over European Union membership, when he declared Muslim Turkey had no place in Christian Europe.

In a Catholic Church document, “Dominus Jesus,” he called for Christian evangelization and said Catholicism is “the one true church of Jesus Christ” — upsetting other Christian denominations and religions.

“He would be the cardinal that saw that Pope John Paul’s dialogue with Islam went too far,” said Cesareo. “He would see the Catholic Church as disarming itself and opening the door to the growth of Islam.”


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