As cardinal, Ratzinger had focused lately on Europe, decrying what Vatican officials term "Christianophobia," the rejection of the continent's heritage.
In selecting Benedict as his papal title, he might be identifying Benedict XV, who served from 1914 to 1922, as his model, according to some Italian commentators. Benedict XV was considered a milder alternative to his stern predecessor, Pius X, who punished those in the church who supported modern views.
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)
But Ratzinger gave a hint of his more likely inspiration when, on April 1, he visited Subiaco, Italy, the home town of Saint Benedict. The order of monks founded by Benedict spread Christianity in Europe. The European church now experiences empty pews, a public preoccupation of the new pontiff. At a meeting in Subiaco, he said Europe "constitutes the most radical contradiction, not only of Christianity but also of religious and moral traditions of all humanity."
The Vatican has opposed laws allowing gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia in several European countries.
Meisner, the Cologne archbishop, said the new pope was elected on the fourth ballot, according to the Associated Press. In 1978, John Paul II was elected after eight ballots, and it took four votes to pick John Paul I, who died after 34 days in office. In 1963, Paul VI was elected on the sixth ballot, and it took 11 ballots in 1958 to elect John XXIII.
Benedict XVI is said to be the first Germanic pope in about 1,000 years.
Throughout Tuesday, supporters of various candidates milled about St. Peter's Square. One hopeful group held up a humorous sign for Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the retired archbishop of Milan. "No Martini, No Party," the banner said, in reference to a vermouth ad that ran in Italy a few years ago.
Under a blue-and-white Honduran flag, some people who said they were restaurant workers cheered for Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga. Brazilians wearing the green and yellow national colors shouted for Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the archbishop of Sao Paulo.
When the new pope was named, a few Italian youths clutching rosaries and identifying themselves as "papaboys" jumped for joy. Navarro-Valls said it was "obvious" that Benedict would make a trip to Cologne this summer for the latest in a series of youth day rallies instituted by John Paul.