Because the College of Cardinals had already been, in effect, sequestered for prayer and conversation for a longer period of time than is ordinarily the case before the start of a conclave, I had thought that consensus would develop quickly around a new pope. I predicted to my family yesterday that we would know today or tomorrow.
But I was surprised by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's selection. I had expected a pope from the Third World.
Many of my Roman Catholic friends and acquaintances will be disappointed by the prospect of Benedict XVI's papacy. They will see him as intransigent on issues they believe require change. Like them, I would like to see the Roman Church ordain women and allow priests to marry as a matter of course.
But on the core issues of Christian faith, it seems that Benedict will be a firm, if gentle, rock. In these times when the entire Church catholic, all of us who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, confront what the new pope has called "the dictatorship of relativism," it will be good to have a Bishop of Rome who is firmly committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and who possesses the quality of mind and the sensitivity of spirit to effectively proclaim Christ and God's truth in uncertain times.
My prayers are with the new pope.