Within the hour, there were expressions of joy as the new pope stepped forward and waved. Armina Contreras, 20, a student from Fullerton, Calif., took a break to give her friends the news by cell phone.
"I'm really excited to see this, being a part of a once-in-a-lifetime event. I feel grateful that I'm living here now," she said. "I'm not Catholic, but when they were saying, 'Amen,' I was overwhelmed."
Pope Benedict XVI, the former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, waves from a balcony of St. Peter's Basilica shortly after his election by the conclave of cardinals. "I entrust myself to your prayers," he told the crowd.
(L'osservatore Romano Via Reuters)
Nearby, Anna Vicenzia, a homemaker from Florence, said she came to Rome on a hunch. "I feel great, so emotional," she said tearfully as the bells rang. "I just had faith that it would be today."
There were some unsmiling faces in the crowd. "I'm scared he'll continue the hyperconservative policies of the last pope," said Sophie George of San Francisco, who works as a tour guide in Rome. "Look at what's happening with AIDS in developing countries. . . . The church is not entering the 21st century."
Susanna Zanelli, 30, of Rome, said: "I'm worried. He's German. He's cold."
Benedict's first appearance before the crowd differed sharply from John Paul's debut 26 years ago as the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. John Paul, 58 at the time and standing ramrod straight, joked with the crowd, told them he would address them in "our language," meaning Italian, and asked them to correct him if he made mistakes. "Do not be afraid," he urged.
There was no such banter or heady exhortation from Benedict, whose hair is white and whose gait is slow.
After withdrawing inside the basilica, the pope prepared to dine with the cardinals at Domus Sanctae Marthae, or St. Martha's House, their residence during the short conclave. After spending the night there, he was to preside at a Mass at the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday. The Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said Benedict's formal investiture would take place Sunday.
The new pope had emerged last year as a papal candidate to be reckoned with. He used his Vatican platform to address broad opinions to large audiences. His age had been thought by some analysts to be a hindrance -- he would be a pope whose predecessor had been chronically ill with Parkinson's disease and other ailments for the past few years.
He wrote a letter of advice to U.S. bishops on denying Holy Communion to politicians who favor abortion rights. He said that the decision was up to the bishops but that they should meet with, teach and warn the politicians ahead of time.
In an interview with a French publication, he cautioned against admitting Turkey, a mostly Muslim country, to the European Union because the continent is predominantly Christian. He also wrote a letter to bishops worldwide decrying a sort of feminism that makes women "adversaries" of men.
He has likened cloning of human cells to "weapons of mass destruction" and once called homosexuality a tendency toward "intrinsic moral evil." Three years ago, when the clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States, he said a media conspiracy was to blame.
"I am personally convinced," he told reporters in Murcia, Spain, in 2002, "that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the U.S., is a planned campaign." The cardinal's Vatican office was in charge of reviewing cases of priests charged with sex abuse.
On Monday, in what was essentially a keynote address for the conclave, he delivered his last homily as a cardinal, attacking "the dictatorship of relativism," which he said denies absolute truth. He took a shot at critics who regard views like his own as radical. "To have a clear faith according to the church's creed is today often labeled fundamentalism," he said.