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Taking the Measure of a New Pope

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page B08

When the bells rang at the Basilica of the National Shrine by the Catholic University campus Tuesday, signaling that a new pope had been selected, students in a journalism course wrote down their thoughts about Pope Benedict XVI and about what his selection may mean for their generation and the church in general.

My feelings about the new pope are mixed. I am happy to have a new head of the Catholic Church. Being able to witness this change as a young Catholic is something many Catholics do not get to experience. It also gives me comfort to know that the new pope worked with Pope John Paul II.

However, I am surprised that the cardinals elected someone as old as Benedict XVI. I thought they would have elected someone younger who would have more time to make an impact.

-- Amanda Griffiths

The election of Pope Benedict XVI should be ringing bells for Catholics everywhere in the United States. It's ironic that we are so ignorant of world politics that we are surprised that the world views the present state of U.S. Catholicism as radical.

I suspect that in the coming weeks the liberal media, the same media that was widely speculating on a Latin American or African for the papacy, will be tearing apart the almost fundamentalist stance of the new pope.

-- Philip Weldon

I am sure that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger will be an excellent successor to Pope John Paul II. It is interesting to witness all the rituals surrounding the election of the new pope for the first time.

To be enrolled at the Catholic University of America makes the circumstances even more meaningful.

-- Patrick Hamrock

I am shocked that Joseph Ratzinger has been elected pope. First, because it happened so quickly, which makes me think the cardinals already had made their decision before they went into the conclave. Second, because he has such conservative beliefs, and the Catholic Church needs to take more radical action if it wants to retain believers. And third, because he was enrolled in the Nazi youth movement in 1941, although he says it was against his will.

-- Meghan Nigborowicz

Cardinal Ratzinger seems a prudent choice to be the next pope; he advised Pope John Paul II frequently. However, his policies about integrating Christian beliefs are more close-minded than those of the previous pope. This won't foster a sense of togetherness among members of our faith at a time when we need that togetherness the most.

-- John Murphy

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