But Benedict won praise from Brazilian archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecidaas a person who was aware of Brazil's social problems.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil congratulated the new pope and said he hoped he would promote "peace and social justice at the same time as reviving the spiritual and moral values of the church."
In Colombia, where Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos had been mentioned as a possible papal candidate, reaction to Benedict was overwhelmingly favorable. Several people interviewed said they had hoped for a homegrown pope but it had always seemed a remote possibility.
"Many Colombians had this beautiful dream that maybe, why not, the next pope would be Colombian, or at least Latin American, but it was nothing more than a dream," said Adriana Garzon, an editor at El Tiempo newspaper in the capital, Bogota. "In the end, I think that they elected the one who had to be elected: a pope who will continue on the same path as John Paul II."
Sentiments were mixed in Africa, home to an estimated 150 million Catholics and the church's fastest-growing population in the world.
In Kenya, evening radio shows were filled with callers saying they hoped Benedict would visit Africa and win their hearts, but others said they were discouraged that the choice was not an African.
"Maybe some will be disappointed that our new leader is not from Africa," said the Rev. John Ndikaru, a Catholic priest in Kenya. "But now we can redirect our feelings and try to get the new leader to focus on Africa's challenges, which are huge and include HIV and abortion. We like that the new pope was close with Pope John II and will continue his legacy. That means he will care about Africa."
Ndikaru said he liked the new pope's strict support of traditional church doctrine. He said Kenyans must combat AIDS by abstaining from sex outside marriage and needed a return to traditional Catholic values. "We wanted someone who would respect life and restore our values," he said. "I think the right man was chosen -- a wise, older man -- and he will lead us for sure."
A group of Kenyan Catholics, rosaries in hand, sat in a Nairobi bookstore cafe, sipping red wine and watching news of Ratzinger's selection on a huge television.
At first, I was dreaming of the African -- such a polished man -- becoming a real African leader in the new world," said Bernadette Mwendwa, 25, referring to Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian who had been widely considered a papal candidate. "But in my heart, I knew that was far-fetched and a mzungu would be pope," she said, using the Swahili word for foreigner or white person. "I'm not really feeling so good right now. But we have to give him a chance. I hope he cares for us and visits."
In Nigeria, speculation that Arinze might become pope had dominated news coverage since John Paul death. Given the church's rapid growth on the continent, many people felt the time had come for a pope from Africa.
"I just would have felt more accepted," said Masi Alfred, 36, a perfume salesman in Lagos.
Rev. Marcellinus Teko told parishioners at Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral on Tuesday evening that Pope Benedict would soon be as familiar to them as John Paul, whose frequent visits to Africa earned him a loyal following there.
Still, Teko said in an interview, the selection of Arinze would have pleased many Nigerians. "It would have given a new face to the Catholic Church in Africa," he said. "Many people would have realized that the church was for the entire world and not just for one race."
Even a pope from Latin America, Teko said, would have been regarded by many as a step toward a more inclusive church. "One of them being the pope would have brought it a little closer to us," he said.
European Catholics expressed similar mixed sentiments. In Spain, some older Catholics greeted the news with jubilation while younger Catholics expressed concern that Benedict would roll back changes in such areas as divorce.
"I am scared because he represents the most conservative part of the church," said Mayte Cedeno, 29, a medical student in Madrid, the Spanish capital.
In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said Ratzinger was a sound choice and had been unfairly depicted as a "bogeyman" by opponents.
But in Austria, Catholics working for reform expressed concern that the safe choice might doom the church to stagnation at a time when it is steadily losing European members. "The election signals continuity, but if Pope Benedict XVI refuses to reform, the church's descent will go faster," predicted Hans Peter Hurkal, who chairs the Austrian branch of a Catholic reform organization.
Wax reported from Nairobi. Correspondents Craig Timberg in Lagos and Daniel Williams in Rome and special correspondents Bart Beeson, Gabriela Martinez and Mayitza Ramirez in Mexico City, Brian Byrnes in Buenos Aires, Andrea Dominguez in Bogota, Colombia and Samuel Loewenberg in Madrid contributed to this report.