VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the 78-year-old guardian of the Church's doctrine for the last 24 years, was elected the 265th pope and took the name Benedict XVI.
The election April 19 came on the second day of the conclave, presumably on the fourth ballot. It was a surprisingly quick conclusion to a conclave that began with many potential candidates and no clear favorite.
Cardinal Ratzinger was chosen by at least a two-thirds majority of 115 cardinals from 52 countries, who cast their ballots in secret in the Sistine Chapel.
His election was announced in Latin to a waiting world from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. A massive crowd of young and old filled St. Peter's Square and welcomed the news with cheers, applause and the waving of national flags.
White smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 5:49 p.m. signaling that the cardinals had chosen a successor to Pope John Paul II. At 6:04 p.m., the bells of St. Peter's Basilica began pealing continuously to confirm the election.
At 6:40, Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, the senior cardinal in the order of deacons, appeared at the basilica balcony and intoned to the crowd in Latin: "Dear brothers and sisters, I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope ... ."
He continued: "... the most eminent and reverend lordship, Lord Joseph Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Ratzinger."
The crowd in the square burst into applause.
The day before, Cardinal Ratzinger had opened the conclave with a stern warning about relativism and the "winds of doctrine" and ideological currents that had buffeted the Church in recent decades.
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