NEWS SIDEBAR: Reactions to Choice of New Pope

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c. 2005 Religion News Service

(UNDATED) Following are excerpts of reactions to the selection Tuesday (April 19) of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the world’s 265th pope, Benedict XVI.

“As a global leader in a global age, his voice will be important in framing some of the great challenges of the 21st century. The higher he lifts our moral horizons, the more he will be admired.”

_ Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Great Britain

“He is a theologian of great stature, who has written some profound reflections on the nature of God and the church. His choice of the name Benedict suggests that he wants to connect his vision of the church to the monastic spirit of service and contemplation.”

_ The Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury

“Today ushers in a new era for the Catholic Church. I join the world community in welcoming Pope Benedict XVI as leader of the Catholic Church, and look forward to seeing how his good works continue spreading God’s message of peace.”

_ U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)

“We join with men and women of goodwill everywhere in congratulating Cardinal Ratzinger on his election as Pope Benedict XVI. We wish for him and his many followers continuing progress in furthering the cause of peace among the nations, and the alleviation of poverty and distress throughout the world.”

_ The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Although important doctrinal differences remain between our churches, I want to assure the pope of our prayers that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel _ in which alone there is life and salvation _ will give him the strength and courage to continue giving leadership to his church and to our world in favor of life and biblical morality.”

_ The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, president of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod

“The cardinals who have elected him have chosen a person of forceful personality and intellectual ability to lead their church into a future which poses many challenges within that church, in relations with other Christian churches and in the world at large.”

_ The Rev. Keith Clements, general secretary of the Conference of Europe

“He opposes many of the civil liberties that Americans take for granted, including equal rights, dissent from religion, and even free speech. He clearly sees government as a servant and instrument of the church.”

_ Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, based in Parsippany, N.J.

“We look forward to his papacy with deep joy and great hope for the future. Pope Benedict XVI is a man of great compassion and great wisdom and we are confident that the Holy Spirit worked through the conclave to guide his election.”

_ Eric McFadden, president, Catholics for Faithful Citizenship, a progressive grass-roots group led by American lay Catholics

“I personally greet Cardinal Ratzinger’s selection with profound disappointment. Cardinal Ratzinger’s long tenure in the Vatican has been marked by a theological tone that is rigid, conservative and confrontational.”

_ The Rev. John H. Thomas, United Church of Christ general minister and president

“His appointment is encouraging, and what we hope for as Hispanic Catholics is that with his blessing he addresses the issues concerning the growing number of Hispanics in the U.S. Catholic Church. Over 70 percent of Hispanics in the United States are Catholics; therefore it is important that the church embraces this gift.”

_ Armando Contreras, executive director, National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry, a network of ministries based in Phoenix

“There are good relations with him. Israel can certainly co-exist with him. But the real test will come over the course of time.”

_ Oded Ben-Hor, Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican, in an Army Radio report

“We hope that the new pope will give the church more roles in trying to solve the problems that the world is facing. We hope that he will continue the policy of John Paul II, who opposed the wall around the Palestinian territories and called for peace between the two peoples.”

_ Adnan Husseini, director of the Waqf, or Islamic Trust, in an Associated Press report

“Given his historical experience, we hope the new pope will be faithful to the commitment of the Catholic Church to fight anti-Semitism.”

_ Silvan Shalom, Israeli foreign minister, in an Associated Press report

“We obviously welcome the election of the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, and we hope that the new pope will continue to promote open, inclusive and respectful dialogue with people of other faiths.”

_ Tarunjit Singh, secretary general of the World Sikh Council, America Region

“I was hoping for a more moderate position that might unite the church. As a Protestant, I’m concerned because Ratzinger has come out strong in what could be seen as a barrier to real ecumenical dialogue.”

_ Tom Reynolds, assistant professor of religious studies at St. Norbert College, in the Green Bay Press-Gazette of Green Bay, Wis.

“My sense is that he might lead toward, actually, better relations with the evangelical churches,”

_ The Rev. Paul Brownback, senior associate pastor at Faith Evangelical Church in Trexlertown, Pa., in The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.

“Our churches, which have authority and influence, should unite their efforts to spread Christian values to modern humankind. The secular world is losing its spiritual way and needs our joint testimony as never before.”

_ Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, to

“He is known as a friend to the Jewish people. And I hope, pray and wish him to follow the footsteps of John Paul II … in his good approach and friendship to the Jewish people in the world and to the state of Israel especially.”

_ Israel Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, to

“We can expect no reform from him in the coming years. Even more people will turn their back on the church.”

_ Bernd Goehring, director of the German ecumenical group Kirche von Unten, to

“We are hopeful that Pope Benedict XVI will continue John Paul II’s tradition of service to the body of Christ across the globe.”

_ Carolyn Haggard, spokeswoman, National Association of Evangelicals

Earlier reactions, from story that moved Tuesday (April 19):

“Laura and I offer our congratulations to Pope Benedict XVI. He’s a man of great wisdom and knowledge. He’s a man who serves the Lord.”

_ President Bush

“From the Jewish perspective, the fact that he comes from Europe is important, because he brings with him an understanding and memory of the painful history of Europe and of the 20th century experience of European Jewry.”

_ Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based group combating anti-Semitism

“We hope that Pope Benedict XVI will follow the biblical tradition of expressing love and compassion for all. In the past, he has made deeply disturbing comments regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, so his selection as the 265th pope is distressing.”

_ Joe Solmonese, president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian advocacy organization

“Our new pope has significant challenges to address as he exercises the Petrine Ministry for the good of the whole church. Foremost among these is the worldwide priest shortage, which, if nothing is done, will bring significant change to the church, regardless of who is pope.”

_ Sister Christine Schenk, director of FutureChurch, a Cleveland-based organization seeking greater participation of all Catholics in the church

“The election of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to be elected in the 21st century, is an important milestone for the Catholic faith and communities worldwide. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has a distinguished record in Catholic-Jewish relations.”

_ Marie Abrams, chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

“On behalf of the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Arlington, I offer our new Holy Father the support of our prayer, loyalty and fidelity. We pray that he will lead us into the way of holiness and truth.”

_ Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va.

“Cardinal Ratzinger already has shown a profound commitment to advancing Catholic-Jewish relations, and we look forward to continuing our close working relationship with the church. We hope the church will continue to show the same sensitivity to Jewish concerns and needs as did the late John Paul II.”

_ Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs of the New York-based American Jewish Committee

“Pope Benedict XVI is a polarizing figure to many, who seems to prefer combativeness to compromise and compassion. Still, we wish him well.”

_ Mary Grant, western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

“America’s Muslim community welcomes the election of Pope Benedict XVI and looks forward to working with him and other representatives of the Roman Catholic Church to advance the cause of peace and justice for people of all faiths. We encourage the new pope to build upon John Paul II’s legacy of interfaith outreach and reconciliation based on mutual respect and religious tolerance.”

_ The Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington

“We’ll see an attempt of Pope Benedict XVI to really reach out and build bridges, and I think that the name `Benedict’ signifies that.”

_ Francesco Cesareo, dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh

“It is significant that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger chose the name Benedict. Benedict XV (1914-22) desired to be remembered as the pope of peace who tried to restore European civilization to a peaceful, almost idealized past. Ratzinger’s taking this name seems to portend a crusade to recapture Europe for the Church.”

_ Maureen Tilley, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, Ohio

“In my personal encounters with Cardinal Ratzinger _ that is Pope Benedict XVI _ I always found him friendly, kind, professionally correct, pleasant to be with, but at the same time a man of firm dedication to the calling to which he has given his life.”

_ Daniel E. Pilarczyk, archbishop of Cincinnati

“The new pope has chosen the name Benedict, which derives from the Latin word for `blessed.’ We offer our prayers and best wishes for our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church.”

_ The Most Rev. Andrew S. Hutchison, archbishop and primate, Anglican Church of Canada

“The selection of Cardinal Ratzinger as the successor to John Paul II indicates clearly that the College of Cardinals wanted to continue the direction and the tremendous accomplishment of the past 27 years.”

_ Carl Anderson, supreme knight, Knights of Columbus

“I know that he will be a faithful shepherd, after the example of the Good Shepherd himself, and I offer him on behalf of the bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity of the United States our support, fidelity and love.”

_ Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide him in his words and his actions and that he may become a focus of unity and a minister of reconciliation in a church and a world in which faithfulness and truth wear many faces.”

_ The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop and primate, the Episcopal Church, USA

“Cardinal Ratzinger has been instrumental in forging several of the church’s landmark efforts toward better relations between Catholics and Jews, including the recognition of the State of Israel and the affirmation of the ongoing Jewish covenant with God. In light of these accomplishments, we are confident that Pope Benedict XVI will continue John Paul II’s pioneering legacy of healing and reconciliation”

_ Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism

“The College of Cardinals has opted for orthodoxy over geopolitical considerations. Cardinal Ratzinger is strong, solid and will carry on the tradition of John Paul II. That is very good news indeed for Catholics, for all Christians and for the world.”

_ Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, a prison outreach and criminal justice reform organization based in Virginia

“History has shown in so many ways the impact of the Roman pontiff on the direction of events both in the church and in society. At the present time we see especially the urgency of processes of reconciliation across religious, ethnic and economic divides.”

_ Joint statement by Bishop Mark Hanson, president, and the Rev. Ishmael Noko, general secretary, of the Lutheran World Federation, a communion of churches

“The cardinal’s historic role as a disciplinarian means the tradition of the punitive father is maintained within the Roman Catholic Church. As we move into a new era for the church, we look to the election of a new pope as a starting point for the critical work that must be done to make this church a home for all Catholics.”

_ Catholics for a Free Choice, a Washington-based abortion rights group

“I think the new pope has to be given a chance and I don’t think he should be compared with Pope John Paul II. We didn’t know that Pope John Paul II would finally make the papacy reflect the people of the world, and this new pope may do even more miraculous things.”

_ Lenora Bradford, a lay Catholic from Alexandria, Va

_ Compiled by Celeste Kennel-Shank, Shawna Gamache and Helena Andrews


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