Germany welcomed the election of one of its own, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as the new pope to succeed John Paul II. Catholic churches around the world are ringing bells and holding special masses to celebrate the new pontiff.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Rome's St. Peter's Square to await the decision from Catholic cardinals on the new leader of the church. After only two days of voting, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez of Chile announced the decision.
Pilgrims cheered, chanting "Long live the pope," as Benedict XVI appeared for the first time on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
Bells tolled across Europe and in Pope Benedict's home state of Bavaria, Germany, where church officials planned a special mass late Tuesday.
In Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the election of Pope Benedict was a great honor for his country.
He praised Benedict as a great and devoted theologian and a worthy successor to Pope John Paul the Second.
In Washington, President Bush called Benedict a man of great wisdom and knowledge.
"We remember well his sermon at the pope's funeral in Rome, how his words touched our hearts and the hearts of millions," said Mr. Bush.
Top officials from France and the European Union also greeted the announcement, saying they look forward to working with the Vatican.
Catholic faithful in Mexico and Nigeria welcomed the college of cardinals' decision, with plans for masses and other celebrations ahead of the new pope's installation mass on Sunday.