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Europe Reacts to Choice of a New Pope

Pope Benedict XVI
Germany has hailed the selection of a German Cardinal as the new pope, the first German to head the Catholic Church in nearly 1000 years. But in other parts of Europe some groups have expressed reservations.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said it is a great honor for the whole country that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been chosen. He said Benedict XVI, would be a worthy successor to Pope John Paul II. German President Horst Koehler welcomed the choice and said there are high expectations for the new Pope.

“Like everywhere in the world millions of worshippers in Germany were waiting for the outcome of the conclave. In Germany we are filled with a lot of happiness and some pride that a national has been elected Pope. Not only the Catholic, but also the Protestants, Orthodox, Jews the Muslims and Buddhists, and even those who do not identify with a single religion were looking to Rome. There are high expectations for Benedict XVI," he said.

In Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican church, welcomed the election of the German Cardinal. Archbishop Rowan Williams said his selection is also of great significance to Christians everywhere.

In Poland, home of Pope John Paul II, many people welcomed the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger saying he would follow the teachings of his predecessor.

But in Austria, a group seeking more liberal Catholicism warned that the church's future would be undermined if Pope Benedict the Sixteenth does not carry out reforms. Hans Peter Hurkal, of the group We Are The Church, said there is a clear demand for reform, but the election of Cardinal Ratzinger signals continuity.

In London, the pro-choice group "Marie Stopes International" said the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger is a missed opportunity if he follows the same policies of his predecessor against condoms and contraception.