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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Pope Benedict XVI
Aired April 19, 2005 - 11:49 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to have to interrupt right now, because we're seeing smoke at the top the of the Sistine Chapel coming from that chimney right there. We're trying to determine exactly. We believe from this live picture now that that might be black smoke. It started out a little whitish gray. Now it's turning black. And if it indeed is black smoke, is what I'm being told right now, that it indeed is black smoke, that means that no pope has been chosen. The conclave is in its second day right now. Voting has taken place starting yesterday. Another round of votes today by the 115 cardinals there.
And again, you're looking live at the chimney atop of the Sistine Chapel, where black smoke is rising at this hour, which means no pope has been elected. The 115 cardinals will have to now continue to determine who will be the next pope. They will have to go back to voting and praying and trying to elect one cardinal out of the 115, who will assume that role.
Right now we want to bring in CNN's Jim Bittermann, who is in Rome with the latest on what we are all seeing right now, live atop of this chimney in the Sistine Chapel. Jim, black smoke yet again.
BITTERMANN: We're not absolutely positive here, Betty. There's one camera that we have that's making it look pretty white. One of the things that would argue for white smoke at this hour is this is -- this would be after only one ballot this afternoon. Basically, if the smoke -- the burnings are at the schedule that we thought they were going to be, in fact, this would be only after one ballot. And from one camera angle, this smoke looks a little bit white.
John Allen is with me, our Vatican analyst. John, what do you think about that?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Jim, I mean, I'm in the same position you are, trying to sort of read the smoke signals literally here. But you're absolutely right. The timing here would seem to suggest, unless they're simply running radically ahead of schedule, that this is one ballot, which would mean a pope. But we're not yet hearing bells, of course, which was the other indication. We were told that we would be hearing.
BITTERMANN: The Vatican told us that they would see -- we would see bells ringing. And I think we've got a camera that's on the bell here. If it's started to swing, that would be an indication. The crowd seems to be interpreting this as white smoke, but it's a little difficult to tell. And we still haven't heard any bells to verify that it's white smoke. In any case, what we heard from the Vatican about the schedule would indicate that they'd only had one vote this afternoon, and we were told they would only burn ballots after two votes. So if this is just after one vote, that would mean it would be the fourth ballot that they've voted since the beginning of the consistory (ph) -- since the beginning of the conclave.
ALLEN: And it's probably worth pointing out, Jim, that there is precedent for it being done this quickly. Of course, in 1939, Pius XII was elected on the third ballot. And in the first conclave of 1978, John Paul I, Albino Luciano of Venice, was elected precisely on the fourth ballot. And, of course, if this is white smoke and if we have a pope, that would indicate to us that this pope has also been elected on the fourth ballot. So it is not out of the question that it could have been done this quickly.
NGUYEN: Jim, I want to ask you, because we do...
ALLEN: Obviously the crowd here is weighing in.
NGUYEN: Exactly. We do the crowd cheering there. Many of them have gathered to not only watch the smoke, but as you can tell, hopefully hear that a new pope has been elected. But yet, we still do not hear the bells ringing, and that is very important to this.
BITTERMANN: Exactly. I mean, the Vatican told us all along that we would hear bells as soon as there was white smoke. But I must say, from the camera angle that we have from our camera, the CNN camera, it does definitely look white. Although the Vatican's camera, which is at a different angle and sort of puts the chimney against the sky in a high contrast situation, looks more black.
So -- and I can see them both here. And I'm not sure how to call this. We'll just have to wait, I think, to see if we hear any bells. Definitely in our camera, I don't know if you can see that, we have a camera with two statues around it and the clock in it. If you can see that, the -- our camera definitely looks white and it seems to be getting whiter.
ALLEN: Seems to be getting whiter. Jim, of course, you lived through 1978 and there was that same kind of uncertainty then.
BITTERMANN: Exactly. The same unfortunate -- but, you know, back then, we didn't have 24/7 news coverage, so, in fact, we didn't have to call it right away. I would say that this put a pressure on us, as well as anybody else here, to make a decision. But the crowd seems to think this is white smoke, that's for sure.
NGUYEN: Jim, after the other vote...
ALLEN: Now the smoke has ended, although we should point out, this is exactly the same way it worked this morning. There was one puff of -- one burst of smoke, then a few moments, and another, likely because there are -- well, if there's just one ballot this afternoon, 115 ballots that have to be burned, plus any notes the cardinals may have taken. And it's a relatively small stove there in the Sistine Chapel, and so you probably have two or even sort of three stacks of material that has to be incinerated.
BITTERMANN: Now we're hearing an Italian news agency is saying that it's white, but of course, they're going on exactly what we're going on, which is sort of an ambiguous picture here. It's hard to tell at this point. And, in fact, yesterday both the crowds and the Italian News Agency said that they had gotten -- briefly said that they had gotten white smoke and in fact, they hadn't.
So, a little difficult but, in fact, it does appear on the one camera to be white. So we'll have to wait to see if we get bells here to verify this. Back in '78, of course, what we had to wait for -- we didn't have the bells, and so all we had to do is wait, wait and wait and after a half hour, when no pope came out, we decided we probably called it wrong.
ALLEN: Well, and of course, in the second conclave of '78, no doubt you will remember, the smoke once again came out a kind of indeterminate gray. And actually, after a good deal of time, people had determined that there was no pope and they started leaving the square. And then all of a sudden, over the loudspeakers, came the announcement "Atencione," meaning pay attention, and people, they came streaming back and knowing that the moment had come.
BITTERMANN: They're a couple of thousand people, at least, out on the Square, who are watching all of this. If this is white smoke, John, then what happens next?
ALLEN: Well, what we would expect is that somewhere within the next 30 minutes or so, the senior cardinal deacon, who is a Chilean cardinal by the name of Jorge Medina Estevez, would step out on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and make that fateful announcement, habemus papum, meaning we have a pope. He would then give the name of the cardinal who has been elected. And of course, there is that bit -- the wrinkle to the Latin formula in which this done, where he'll give the first name and then cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, in Latin, and then the last name. So there will be a four to five second delay between those things.
And then he would give the name by which he is elected to be called, whether it be John Paul III or Pious XIII or John XXIV or some other name. And then a few moments after that, the new pope would step out onto the same balcony, called the simple loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, and deliver what's known as the urbi et orbi blessing, that is the city and to the world.
And if he does what Karol Wojtyla, the cardinal of Krakow did in October 1978, he would also ad-lib a few lines after the blessing. You'll remember Wojtyla gave that famous mini-speech, in which he said I'm going to address a few words to you in your -- no, no, our Italian language. Of course, the first non-Italian pope in 450 years. So, obviously, if this is white smoke, and we don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but if it is, then we will be waiting to see those events unfold in short order.
NGUYEN: John, let me ask you this, because if it is indeed, white smoke and there is a new pope, that pope will choose a name, as you just mentioned. How important is that and how telling is that name?
BITTERMANN: Betty was asking how important is the name that is given to the next pope, or the new pope takes that name. It's his choice.
ALLEN: It is. And sometimes it simply is a name in reference to a particular saint that is particularly important to this person, perhaps the saint after which he named, the patron saint of his city. But it could also be the first indication we get as to what kind of pontificate the pope intends to lead.
A name such as Pious XIII, for example, would indicate to us, to some extent, that he intends a more conservative papacy, in line with the early papacies of the 20th century associated with Pious' 10th, 11th and 12th. A name like John the XXIV, on the other hand, would indicate perhaps a more reformist papacy, in line with John XXIII in the 1959-1963, who, of course, launched a second Vatican council and ushered in a kind of liberalizing period in the history of the church.
John Paul III would indicate, obviously, a clear desire to stand in continuity with the pope who has just died. And so it is -- and of course, as you know in this business, we try to sort of grasp on every clue that floats our way as to where this name might go. And that would really be the first indication we get of the kind of tone he wants to set for his papacy.
BITTERMANN: That's really interesting, the importance put on the name. I mean, in fact, a pope could almost jinx the papacy if he were to choose the wrong name and then later decide that he was going down the wrong path for the church.
ALLEN: That's correct. And there are also sort of other fateful considerations. I mean, for example, John Paul I chose to be known as John Paul I. And there was actually -- shortly thereafter, a Vatican historian sent him a note indicating, you know, Holiness, congratulations and all, but you're wrong on your name. There can't be a first until there's a second. And John Paul I indicated, and this from his private secretary, this story that we actually had on CNN's air earlier this month -- John Paul I indicated I don't think I will be here very long and another will follow me. And of course, he was the pope who reigned only 33 days.
BITTERMANN: Amazing. And then there was the story about John Paul II choosing -- wanting to choose the name Stanislaw.
ALLEN: In reference, of course, to the patron saint of Poland. That's exactly right. So there -- sometimes these are matters of personal significance, sometimes they're matters of political significance, but again, what's important about it is it is in a sense the -- I should say it's the second decision the pope will make. The first is to accept the office. We should point out when the pope is elected, the first two questions that are put to him by the dean of the College of Cardinals, or the vice dean, if it were to be the dean itself who is elected, are, first of all do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff. Historically speaking, although it doesn't happen often, there are examples of men who said no. On thinks of St. Philip Benizi, for example, in the 13th century, famous Council of Peterbou (ph) that went on for two years and nine months. One if the reasons was St. Philip was elected and then fled the conclave, refusing to take the office. St. Charles Bornamale (ph) also refused.
But we would expect if we have white smoke, obviously this man didn't make that choice. There go those bells, Jim.
BITTERMANN: Right. There go the bells, but it is also six o'clock.
ALLEN: Quite right.
BITTERMANN: So these are the six o'clock bells we're hearing. Standard bells. I don't hear continuous tolling but we've also been told there will be bells echoing throughout bells, that all the other churches of Rome would pick up the tolling of the bells if the pope was elected, and that has not happened. So it is hard to say whether or not this was white smoke or black smoke, and it stopped, in any case.
The timing, however, is very curious, because if indeed they did, as they said they were going to do, which is burn after two ballots, that would be about an hour from now. The fact that there was smoke showing now, would indicate that they were burning ballots ahead of time. And if they were burning ballot ahead of time, there was only one reason to burn ballots, and that is to announce that a pope had been elected.
ALLEN: Although we should say, there is one was plausible reason, which is they may simply be ahead of schedule.
BITTERMANN: Exactly. We're all going on the basis of time schedules that were established earlier, before the conclave began. And now we see a little bit more smoke coming out here. So that's a little bit ambiguous as well. This crowd is going to be pretty disappointed if in fact a pope doesn't come out of the balcony. Have been waiting all afternoon for this.
ALLEN: Obviously, they are stand-ins for people all over world who are hanging on this moment. We should say, not just the 1.1 billion Catholics in the world but obviously members of the other faiths and people no faiths who have been watching the events here in Rome the last several days with great anticipation. Waiting for that moment, when we will know who the successor of John Paul II, who certainly, by any measure, was one of the titans of his time. Who the man who will pick that up role for him will be.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): All right, John Allen, Jim Bittermann, I want both of you to stand by for a moment. This is Wolf Blitzer in Washington. I want to update our viewers on what's going on right now. Smoke has been coming out of that chimney now for the past several minutes. It's unclear whether that smoke is white signaling there's a new pope, or black signaling there is still no new pope. We had been told repeatedly in recent days, if the smoke was white, it would be augmented with the sound of bells. We heard some bells but not bells that our designated as the appropriate bells that would indicate the election a new pope.
As a result, there is still uncertainty right now although you look at that crowd in St. Peter's square, they believe, at least many them believe, a new pope has been in fact been elected. But we don't hear the specific bells that were designated to signal the election of the new pope. Certainly, as John Allen and Jim Bittermann have been reporting over these past several minute, the smoke did appear to be very close to white. It did not look black by any means. In the left part of your screen, you're seeing that one specific bell. That was designated as the bell that would chime. That bell would ring, if in fact a new pope was elected, to make sure that there wouldn't be the uncertainty that developed. But now we so that bell moving. John Allen, Jim Bittermann, are there. That bell is moving. That indicates a new pope has in fact been elected.
BITTERMANN: I think this is it, Wolf.
BLITZER: John Paul II -- That was white smoke and a new pope has been elected. Jim Bitterman, confirm that that bell is in fact ringing?
BITTERMANN: The bell is swinging. Getting ready to ring. Takes a while to get this thing going.
ALLEN: There we are!
BITTERMANN: First toll.
ALLEN: There you go.
BITTERMANN: That's the tolling of ...
BLITZER: Here it is. The bell is ringing. A new pope has been elected, a successor to Pope John Paul II. That smoke was in fact white. John Allen, this is very, very quick. They convened yesterday. The conclave. Today, they met very quickly. They have elected a new pope. We clearly have no idea who that pope is, but what does it say to you, the speed of this process?
BITTERMANN: This is - as John mentioned a moment ago, there is precedent. John Paul I was elect after four ballots and now, Wolf, I don't know if you can hear. It's a wonderful sound. All of the bells in Rome are picking up all of the sounds. All of the bells in Rome are ringing in the response to the great bell here at St. Peter's. Let's hear a little bit of it.
BLITZER: An exciting moment for the thousands, the tens of thousands who have gathered. The millions, the tens of millions, perhaps the hundreds of millions who are watching on various television stations, not only in Italy and Europe, but around the world. There is a new leader of the 1.1 billion member Catholic Church. A new pope has been elected. The bells are chiming, to underscore, the white smoke that did in fact come out. It looked white. Almost looked white from the very beginning but it was a little misleading because on earlier occasions, the smoke did appear to be white but then after 30, 40 seconds turned black. In this particular case that white smoke which we're seeing still coming out of that chimney at the Vatican, continues to be white. There is no black smoke. And as a result, together with the bells chiming, the election of a new pope has in fact occurred. John Allen, if you could hear me right now, walk us through the process. What happens in the minutes and hours to come as we get word of the name, the new pope, who has been selected?
ALLEN: Well, Wolf, the next major event we would expect to happen somewhere in the next half hour to 40 minutes, if historical patterns hold, is that the senior cardinal deacon from the college that's a Chilean by the name of Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, will step out of that central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and he will make the famous "habemus papum" announcement, which means that we have a pope. He will then provide the name of the pope. This, of course, will be recited in Latin. You will get the pope's first name in Latin and separated with four word. His first name, cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, then the last name. At that moment, obviously we will know the identity of the man who has been elected. He will then tell us the name the new pope has been chosen. Some moments after that perhaps a few minute, perhaps as many as ten minute, the new pope himself will step out of this central balcony at St. Peter's Square. He will walk down the Hall of Benedictions, step out and give his urbi et orbi blessing.
Of course, in the meantime, what's been happening, Wolf, is that the cardinals one by one have been approaching the pope to pledge loyalty to him. The pope has been led off it a small room off of the Sistine Chapel called the Hall of Tears where he has a few moments to compose himself and step into one of those three sets of white vestments that have been prepared for him. One for a small-sized man, one in medium, one in large. Whichever one is most fitting, he will don. That's what he'll wear when he steps out to deliver that blessing.
BITTERMANN: Just to interrupt for a second, John. Wolf, I don't know if you can see this, but streaming into the square now, through the colonnade through every opening in the colonnades are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, coming off of the streets. They have heard the bells and they know what that means. And they are now streaming into the square because they know in just a few minute's time we're going to see a pope standing out on the loggia of blessings it is called, the main central balcony in front of St. Peter's.
BLITZER: What's interesting, John Allen and Jim Bitterman, and I am going to bring Alessio Vinci in, our Rome bureau chief who has been covering this story as well that it took about five minutes or so between the time the first smoke began to emerge from the chimney until those bell, maybe five, six, maybe even seven minutes until those bells chiming right now, until that occurred. And as a result, there was extension confusion at the Vatican, in Rome, around the world, whether the smoke was in fact white, was black, was gray. It was unclear what was going on. But clearly they eventually got the timing in place and the bells are now moving, indicating there is a new pope. Alessio Vinci, where you are exactly right now?
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello, Wolf. I'm on the edges of St. Peter's Square look at a crowd of several thousands of people, waving flags literally from all around the world, celebrating the election of Pope John Paul II. The tolling of the great bells of St. Peter's, the campanoni (ph) is the confirmation that everybody was waiting for. We saw the grayest smoke that looked white at some point, then looked gray, then looked black. We had no idea that John Paul II is perhaps one of his greatest decision says ever to say, instructed in a pope is elected alongside with the smoke of the Sistine Chapel chimney, also the great bells of St. Peter, should toll. That's a confirmation that took a while actual to come around, to come about.
And as soon the bell began to move, even before we could hear its news. People in the crowd, people in the crowd waving flags from all around world start going absolutely crazy. There is really a feeling here of a sporting event rather than a papal election. I was talking it a colleague earlier who was here back 26 years ago when John Paul I was first elected before he died only 30 days later, he told me that during that election, there were mainly Italian people. That John Paul II did bring the church around the world, did travel to more than 100 countries throughout his 26 years plus, papacy and now we are seeing some of these people back here in St. Peter's Square celebrating this historic day because they wanted to be here obviously on this day. This is truly the first international papal election that we're witnessing today here in St. Peter's Square. It is a true historic moment.
Let me pause for a second here to let you share with me what the crowd is like at that time.
BLITZER: And, Alessio, we can see those thousands of people streaming into St. Peter's Square. That is the balcony. And that door will eventually open the new pope, the successor to John Paul II, will emerge that the balcony. We will learn who this new pope is. Whether he is Italian, whether he is European. Whether he is non- European from Latin American, perhaps from Africa. So much, so much curiosity, so much interest in this election of this new pope. We will be learning that very soon now that a new pope has been elected.
The first process, we saw the white smoke. We weren't certain it was white, but it was. Then the bells began to chime. And the third process will be the doors to that balcony will open up and the new pontiff will emerge and we will all know who that person is. Let me bring back John Allen. And give us an indication, John, if we can, get any indication, the speed, a day basically, for this conclave before they reached that two-thirds' majority. Maybe it was a lot more than two-thirds of the 115 cardinals that were sworn to secrecy and participated in this selection.
Does it give us any indication that a frontrunner emerged as the consensus so quickly?
ALLEN: Well, that's possible, Wolf. Although we should remember the last time it thousand fast that that is the first time in 1978 that elected the patriarch of Venice, Albino Luciani as John Paul I, he actually was not a front-runner. The two front-runners or so- called front-runners going into that conclave were the cardinals of Genoa, Cardinal Giuseppe Siani (ph) and Florence, Giovanni Benelli (ph) and in fact neither of those men got the two-thirds win.
In fact, Luciani, his candidacy was hatched almost before the fact as a compromise between these two fashions and came together very quickly. So much so that he almost won on the third ballot. The fourth was largely a formality. So, Wolf, while it is impossible that one of the frontrunners such as Cardinal Ratzinger or Cardinal Tetzamanzi (ph) came through very quickly, it is also quite possible that we are still in store for a surprise. That is the kind of frustrating but in the end, inescapable reality that we're just going to have to wait a few minutes to see exactly what has happened.
BLITZER: When you see in a few minutes, we'll get the first word from Cardinal Medina Estevez of Chile. Is that right, John?
ALLEN: That's absolutely right, Wolf. He is the protodeacon, or the senior cardinal deacon. Of course, the cardinals are divided into three groups, deacons, priests and bishops. It is a traditional privilege of the senior cardinal deacon to announce the name of the pope. So assuming it is not Medina Estevez himself who has been elected, he will step out onto the central balcony of St. Peter's Square. We would expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 20, 30, 40 minutes from now and make that habemas papum announcement, the news that we have a pope. And give the anxiously awaiting world his name.
BLITZER: And how much longer after that announcement by Cardinal Medina Estevez, how much longer before we actually see the new pope emerge?
ALLEN: Probably just a few minutes, Wolf. Again, this is assuming historical patterns hold. Of course, the Catholic Church has a new pope which means someone new is in charge and to be honest with you, he can do it however he wants to do it. If it is done the way it traditionally has been done, we would expect him to step out a few moments later. Perhaps, five 10, 15 minutes later and make that traditional blessing, again the urbi et orbi blessing. The city and the world. And of course, so called because the pope is not just the leader of the world wide spiritual family that is Roman Catholicism, he is also the bishop of Rome. And many of his local flock as we speak streaming into St. Peter's square to meet their new leader.
BLITZER: Jim Bittermann, let me bring you back into this conversation. On the screen, on the left part of the screen, we see the balcony that from which Cardinal Medina Estevez will emerge shortly to make the official announcement that there is a new pope and he will tell us who that new pope is. A few minutes after that we will see the pope come to that balcony. There are literally thousands of people who are screaming in to St. Peter's square. They want to be eyewitnesses to this historic event. You were there in 1978, the last time this occurred. Give us a little sense the difference between then and now.
BITTERMANN: Well, I hope it is very different this time around, Wolf because back then, we did not recognize Cardinal Wojtlyla's name when it was announced. There was a murmur that went through the square back then. People thought that maybe it was an Asian that had been elected. They couldn't figure out which name had been pronounced. I hope we can get it right off of the bat. In fact, I have kind of been living dread this, this moment that we don't understand what cardinal they are going to announce.
I would just, by the way, Wolf, just going back over the timing of this a little bit in my own mind and in fact the timing does work out just about right because we thought the first vote of the afternoon would be done around 5:30, that was about 45 minutes ago. And that would have -- if that was the timing that we were told held that in fact it would -- that extra half hour there, before they burnt the ballots probably would have accounted for the time it takes for the cardinals to proclaim the new pope and to pledge their allegiance to the new pope. So I think that was going on in that period.
So about 6:00 local time is when we started seeing the white smoke. Now I think we've got about, oh, another 15 minutes or so before we see cardinal come out and announce the name of the new pope. Back in '78 after that announcement of the name, it took, I think it took about eight minutes or so before the pope himself came out resplendent in his white robes.
BLITZER: The whole notion of the name of the new pope, John Allen, when we get that name, we just automatically assume it'll be one of those 115 cardinals, the electors all under the age of 18 (sic). It would be highly, highly unusual if they went outside that group, isn't that right?
ALLEN: That's absolutely right, Wolf. And I would suggest that the speed of the conclave probably renders that even more implausible, if they were going to go outside of the college to select a pope. Presumably, precisely because an enormous break with historical precedence. They would have wanted to take more time to think about it and it would have drug things out a bit. The fact they elected a pope which we presume is the fourth ballot. Although if they were moving I presume it could have been the fifth. But on what we would presume would account fourth ballot would suggest that the new pope is in fact going to emerge from among the 115 cardinal electors who took part. And that presumably he's a man who was at least reasonable well known to many of them. Of course, again, at this stage, we don't want to get terribly ahead of ourselves, because again, we are simply going to have to wait for that announcement by Cardinal Medina Estevez to establish his identity.
ALLEN: I have to assume, and correct me if I am wrong. I will ask you John Allen or Jim Bittermann, Alessio, if you are there, since it happened within 24 hours basically of the conclave convening, it was someone who was very well known, very well known to virtually all of those 115 cardinals. It wasn't someone who was relatively unknown. I think that's a fair assessment. Jim Bittermann, what do you think.
BITTERMANN: I think I would go with that assumption, Wolf. Because I think one of the things we talk about repeatedly when we talk to cardinals over the last week, a number of them said look, some of us don't know each other. We got a chance to know each other and will want to talk about the kind of political views and church views that people have before we vote for them. The fact is with this quick of a vote, one must assume that it's somebody that a lot of people know, but we could still be surprised here. What do you think, John?
ALLEN: Well, also make the point, there is a difference, Wolf, between someone who is well known to the other cardinals and someone who is well known to us. I mean, it well may be it is a figure who has many connections either personal or connections because of service in Rome or in some other capacity with many of the other members of the College of Cardinals, but who is not, then, an enormous figure on the stage of global Roman Catholicism.
Again, I would note, that was true of Cardinal Albino Luciani, the patriarch in Venice who was elected on the built that 1978. So while you are probably right, it is a fair inference that given the speed of this, this is someone that many of the cardinals knew and felt comfortable with. That doesn't mean necessarily someone on all of our a-lists going into this event.
BLITZER: Just to recap for our viewers. A new pope has been elected. There was one white smoke. The bells of tolling. They're still tolling at the Vatican. On the left part of your screen, you're seeing the balcony from which Cardinal Medina Estevez, the senior cardinal deacon will shortly emerge to make the announcement. A few minutes after that we expect the new pope himself will come through those doors on the balcony and make his first appearance.
Delia Gallagher, I want to bring her in now, our other Vatican analyst. What is going through your mind, Delia, as history unfolds in Rome?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, actually, Wolf, I can't quite believe it. I can't quite believe that it's happened so quickly. I don't think any of us were expecting it today, this afternoon. And I think the analogy with Luciania, Pope John Paul I, is the right one. It seems to be that this fourth, fifth ballot suggests that we've got somebody who is very popular amongst the cardinals. But perhaps even an insider. Perhaps not a front-runner that we were suspecting.
So it's an incredible atmosphere at moment. I think you can see the people pouring into the square there and the deliberation over whether it was white, gray, black. And fortunately they gave us the bells eventually to signal that they had made a decision. But I think ago, amazing that they actually came to it this quickly. It either suggests they went for the top cardinal that we've all been talking about perhaps. I don't even want to say the name because it might not be right but either way from the top off the bat, or it could have happened like with Pope John Paul II, they have the Cardinal Ciadi (ph), Cardinal Berneli (ph), two front-runners on the one day. On the second, they went right to the third candidate.
ALLEN: Delia, I think you are absolutely right. And I think what will immediately bottom the interest of great journalistic, is who was the engineer of this election? In other words, who was the king maker, as we say in papal politics? This that first conclave in 1978 the split between Ciari (ph) and Bernel (ph) that we mentioned. What had happened prior to that is we later reconstructed is that Cardinal Berneli knowing the split was likely to emerge had decided before fact to throw his support to Cardinal Lucinia of Venice. That's how he got elected so quickly. So, I am sure something we will all be searching to understand in the coming hours and days is sort of the sort of behind the scenes story of exactly how this happened.
BLITZER: Well, I think it's fair to say, Jim -- I think it's fair to say that the architect of this whole conclave was none other than Pope John Paul II himself, who appointed virtually all -- almost all of those 115 cardinals. I'm not sure on the exact number but of the 115, I would say at least 110 or 111 were appointed by pope John Paul II is that right?
BITTERMANN: Actually, 113 of these 115 were appointed by John Paul II. So, yes in that regard, these are certainly men at some point along the line in their careers at least they were thinking good deal like the pope because he decided they should be elevated in the church. That doesn't mean their viewpoints are all of the same, however. And this is a fair range of views between them. Delia, did you ...
GALLAGHER: Yeah, absolutely. I think for example, Cardinal Martini was named by John Paul II, and yet he has come out with some very different, sort of more progressive views. In fact he was considered a progressive candidate up until a few years ago. He's now a bit older and I don't know if we will see him as the next pope but certainly the other cardinals were in line with his vision and it wasn't exactly what John Paul II had in hind?
ALLEN: And nor, Jim, was it not just that there were liberal cardinals who differ with the pope in some respects. There were also conservative cardinals who differed with the pope in some respects, including his top doctrinal official Joseph Ratzinger. Who, for example, when the pope called the religious leaders of humanity to pray with him for peas in Assisi in 1986, Ratzinger was somewhat critical in that, believing it might suggest in some way equality among the religions, with which he was uncomfortable. While it is true, the pope has named all of these cardinals, I don't know you can make a case he has somehow stack the deck and predetermined the outcome of this election.
BLITZER: Hold on guys, for a minute, I just want our Alessio Vinci - he is on the scene. He's down among the crowd. You see the tens of thousands of people who have flooded into St. Peter's Square. They are thrilled. They've come from all over the world to eyewitness this moment that is about to occur. Alessio, give us a little flavor as we see these people just running into St. Peter's Square.
VINCI: Well, Wolf, I can tell you that words really spread quickly around town. I can see behind me and all around me, people pouring from all sides into St. Peter's Square and the most incredible thing about what is happening right now, and these are not just Italians. These are people from literally all around the world. I heard you talking about how well the cardinal should be known among the other cardinals. There are 115 of them. Some of them that perhaps the first time here in Rome during this conclave, or how well this cardinal should be known to the media. But one really wonders how well the cardinal who has been elected pope is known around the pope here and around the world. And if not, what will he do to make himself known? Because this is really the true legacy of Pope John Paul II. This is not any Italian crowd, this is a crowd from all over the world. As you can see the flags waving in the sky. You see Italian, Mexican, from France, from Brazil, from Germany. I really count -- are there even flags, I can't even recognize. That should tell you the true international flavor of this crowd near St. Peter's Square and they keep coming and coming and coming without stopping. Without stopping.
And as you can see here, this is the balcony where failure, a few moments, cardinal Medina will announce in Latin, nuncio verbes (ph) galumanium (ph) habemus papam, I announce to you with great pleasure that we have -- that we have a pope. Down here of course, now everybody waiting to find out exactly who this man will be and as some of my colleagues have pointed out, the big risk of course the name that be there pronounced first in Latin may not be understood right away by the crowd. Nevertheless, I can tell you there is a great feeling here of people. Most of them have been waiting here ever since the cardinals locked themselves into the conclave about 24 hours ago, or a bit less than - a bit more than that. And I can tell you also that as the crowd keep coming here in St. Peter's Square, it is already clear there will not be enough space for everybody. The square will not be able to contain the entire crowd.
And also interesting to note the Baslica St. Peter's has been now closed to the public. Everyone has been kicked out from the basilica and now here in the square and in the surrounding areas. I am looking myself around and I can simply see no free space, Wolf. It is amazing. The amount of people who are in just a short time, less than half an hour, converging here in St. Peter's Square. And again I want to stress, these are not people who live here in Italy, who live here in Rome. These are people from all around the world. John Paul II, the pope who has traveled the most through his 26 years of papacy, has brought the catholic church all around the world from Catholic Mexico, to countries like Azerbaijan where just a few hundred Catholics.
Well, it does look like a representative of each country are back here in St. Peter's Square to welcome his successor. Wolf?
BLITZER: And we're seeing the balcony at St. Peter's Square. That balcony -- the doors will eventually open. We expect it to open very, very soon and out will emerge Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez of Chile. He will make the formal announcement. He is 79 years old, Delia Gallagher. What else do we been this man who will have this incredible honor?
GALLAGHER: He's been somebody very much behind the scenes because of his important role as the camerlengo. The junior deacon, excuse me. He's been somebody who's been very much an ally of Pope John Paul II. A conservative cardinal. And very much a presence here in Rome. So what one of the cardinals who has this great honor of delivering this news, provided of course it's not himself in which case we're not sure who will make that announcement I suppose. But one assumes that it's not him. And he will be out shortly to give us that information.
BLITZER: This is a moment that the whole world really has been waiting for, John Allen. And it's a moment that came very, very quickly. Only about 24 hours after the conclave convened. The selection of a new pope. The successor to Pope John Paul II, the crowd is very, very excited at St. Peter's Square. And there are millions of people around the world who are anxiously awaiting word. Delia, a few moment ago, and a lot of us have been speculating a lot, John Allen. I want you to weigh in on. On Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany. He's the senior cardinal. A lot of people had been looking at him as a possible successor and it's dangerous at this moment to speculate too much, but if in fact he were to be named the new pope, elected the new pope, it would not necessarily come as a huge surprise.
ALLEN: No, that's absolutely right, Wolf. I mean, Cardinal Ratzinger not only has he went towering the figure during this interegnum period as the dean of the College of Cardinals, the man who celebrated the pope's funeral mass, the man who delivered the final homily at the mass for the election of the pope. He's also went towering figure, or a towering figure in this pontificate for the last 24 years, as the pope's chief doctrinal officer. He has been went the architect of many of the most controversial positions in John Paul II's pontificate. But whatever one makes of those positions, I think he's universally admired as a man of deep intellect, probably one of the most competent Catholic theologians of his generation, a man of great spiritual depth.
And surprisingly despite his public reputation of something of a bruiser, in person, he comes across as very gracious, very humble, I would say almost shy, smiling and kind. And so he has a great kind of personal rapport with people who know him intimately, as many of his brother cardinals would. So, obviously, Wolf, we do not want to get ahead of ourselves here. We should not begin speculating until we know for sure about who has been elected.
But you were quite right. Were it to Be Cardinal Ratzinger who steps out shortly to deliver that urbi et orbi (ph) address, I don't think any of us would be bowled over.
BLITZER: I think Jim Bittermann, let me bring you into this conversation, because you've done a lot of work, and you've gotten to know him to a certain degree, Cardinal Ratzinger. Yesterday when I spoke I interviewed Father David O'Connell, the president of the Catholic University of America, someone who has met him on several occasions. He stated exactly what John Allen just said, that he may have one persona on the outside, but on the personal level, he is a man who is very, very well liked by his colleagues, and his friends and his associates. He comes across as very sincere, very likable, and even Cardinal O'Connell said very soft spoken, if you will, which is not necessarily impression, the image he gives publicly.
BITTERMANN: I think that's true. I think that basically there are a couple of images there, Ratzinger, that he's known in Germany as the panzer cardinal because of the way that his public image is projected, but I think the personal image is something else. Now again, now, some cardinals and perhaps some bishops who fell afoul of Cardinal Ratzinger probably wouldn't say that he was the kindest, gentlest person around, because he did have a reputation for being a fairly tough taskmaster. And his position at the Congregation of the Faith used to be called, by the way, "the inquisition." So he had a very powerful job within the Vatican.
One thing I should point out, there's a number of people within the Vatican hierarchy who would probably qualify as well known to the other cardinals, so well known that perhaps they'd vote for him on the first, second, third, or this is the fourth ballot, somebody like, for instance, Castro Dejoyas (ph), the head of the Congregation of the Clergy, a person very well known to practically every cardinal and every priest in the church because of his position. So there are a number of people in the curia who would fit that definition of having been well known to the other cardinals. This very quick election may indicate that perhaps it's a curiae cardinal, as opposed to somebody out in one of the archdioceses who may not be as well known to his colleagues.
BLITZER: Delia Gallagher, do you want to weigh in, Delia, specifically on that point that Jim Bittermann just made?
GALLAGHER: Well, I think that certainly, you know, the issue is going to be whether we get somebody who's from the Roman curia or from a more pastoral sort of environment, and I think the problem that most of these men have both attributes. And the best candidate obviously will have both of them, a little bit of experience here in Rome, but it has to be pastoral. You can't come after Pope John Paul II without being a pastoral candidate at this stage.
BLITZER: It was about a little bit more than a half an hour or so ago, about 40 minutes or so ago, that we began see smoke emerge from the chimney. It looked white from the beginning, although there were no bells that were tolling, at least for five, six seven minutes. That was supposed to be the confirmation that a new pope has been elected. We eventually did hear those bells. We saw the white smoke continuing to emerge. As a result, there's a new pope. Now we're waiting for the announcement of the new pope. That announcement will be made once those doors at balcony at the Vatican are opened, and Cardinal Medina Estevez of Chile will emerge. He's the senior cardinal deacon. He will make the announcement. A few minutes after that. We expect to see the new pope, the successor to Pope John Paul II. He will become the 265th pope.
John Allen, all the other senior cardinals, senior positions at the Vatican, will immediately resigned once there's a new pope, and the new pope will then pick all of his team basically from scratch, is that right?
ALLEN: Well, not quite, Wolf.
Actually what happens is that all of the heads of Vatican offices, save three, lose their jobs upon the death of the pope. So when John Paul II died, technically all of those men were out of work. Now many of them actually continued to come into their offices to help things move along, but technically they're no longer running the show.
What typically will happen is that when the new pope is elected, he will reconfirm those men for a period of time, and then as they age or as they retire, he'll begin bringing in his own team.
So it's not like a secular government where when the prime minister falls, all of his cabinet ministers fall with him. Actually what is likely to happen is most of the prefects and the heads of the offices that we already know will be back to work tomorrow morning, at least for a brief period of time, and then eventually, just by the sort of logic of attrition, they will be replaced in the coming weeks and months.
BLITZER: Cardinal Ratzinger himself will have to step down, isn't that right?
ALLEN: In fact, he already has stepped down. The cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is no longer in charge of that office. It's been run for the last couple of weeks, since the death John Paul II, by the secretary, Archbishop Angelo Amato (ph).
Now one presumes that if Cardinal Ratzinger has not been elected pope, the new pope will undoubtedly reconfirm him, along with all of his colleagues, at least for a brief period of time, a matter of weeks, if not months.
Eventually however, we all know that the new pope will bring in his own team.
BLITZER: Let's bring Alessio Vinci back into this. He's on the ground at St. Peter's square. He's trying to gauge a little bit of the excitement among the crowd.
Alessio, update our viewers on what's going on.
VINCI: Well, Wolf, what's going to here is what has been happening for the last 45 to 50 minute, and that is by the tens of thousands, people who are trying to reach St. Peter's Square, which is basically already packed. And I can tell you, looking behind me, (INAUDIBLE), which is in the main boulevard that leads to St. Peter's square, and eventually to the St. Peter's Basilica, I already know and I already can tell you that there is no way everybody will be able it get all the way down here to St. Peter's Square.
And just for those viewers who have been watching only the last few minutes, I can tell you one of the most interesting things about this crowd, Wolf is it's how international it is. Usually when there is a papal election, the vast majority of the people arriving here quickly are from Italy, of course, and from Rome, because they happen to be close by the Vatican. But this time around, I can tell you that there is a vast, vast representation of people from all around the world. I can see flags literally from every continent -- from Brazil, to Eastern Europe, to -- from Western Europe, the United States of course. I mean, it is -- Australia. I mean it is unbelievable to see how much this pope has really brought the Catholic Church around the world and how much people are now coming back towards St. Peter's Square to basically welcome the successor of John Paul II.
I can hear a band playing here in the background. I cannot see, it however. That gives you a bit of an indication about how crowded this area here is. I also must tell you for the records that there is also a massive presence of police, of course. This also could become a potentially hazardous area, and there is of course a security concern throughout this area, and I can see literally hundreds of policemen are moving in, trying to of course keep an eye on the crowd, which there is no way will be able to get all the way down to St. Peter's Square.
You can also hear ambulances of course. You can hear police. You hear all sorts of things happening here in St. Peter's Square. I wonder how this ambulance is going to make it through the crowd. Quite an amazing scene here, Wolf. It is absolutely packed to the very maximum, packed to the very maximum. As we wait for Cardinal Medina to emerge from the central loggia (ph), central balcony of St. Peter's Square to who announce who the 256th pope of the Roman Catholic church will be.
BLITZER: All right, Alessio, stand by.
John Allen, given us some perspective, day two of the conclave. It convened yesterday. On this second day, a new pope is elected. It seems very speedy. But give us a sense of perspective on how quick this was, given to the selection, the election of earlier popes in recent centuries.
ALLEN: Well, Wolf, this would really be in a tie for second place for speediest conclaves of the 20th century. The conclave of 1939 that elected Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, by the way, the last Roman to be the bishop of Rome, lasted only three ballots. Now that, of that course, was to some extent because the church was on the verge of the second world war and there was great consensus that you needed a steady diplomatic hand at the rudder and everyone believed that that would be Cardinal Pacelli.
BLITZER: That was Pope Pius the XXII. That was Pope Pious XII. He was elected in 1939.
ALLEN: That's right, thank you, Wolf. And then, of course, that first conclave of 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani, the patriarch of Venice, was elected on the fourth ballot. We are presuming that the pope we are going to meet shortly is also elected....
BLITZER: Here we go. The drapes have been drawn. The doors are opening. Let's just watch this moment as the security guards get ready for the formal announcement. The cardinal from Chile, the senior Vatican deacon, will emerge, Cardinal Medina Estevez. He will come out from behind those curtains, he will make the announcement in Latin. We will then watch for the actual appearance of the new pope, the successor to John Paul II. Let's listen in.
CARDINAL JORGE MEDINA ESTEVEZ, SENIOR CADINAL DEACON: (SPEAKING IN ITALIAN)
BLITZER: And there it is, you've heard the announcement. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the senior cardinal, from Germany, has been elected.
ESTEVEZ: (SPEAKING IN ITALIAN)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN iTALIAN)
BLITZER: And so there it is, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the senior cardinal, the closest cardinal to Pope John Paul II, will become the next pope. John Allen, we were talking about this only moments ago that we wouldn't be surprised if it were John -- Joseph Ratzinger. It is Joseph Ratzinger. Give us your thoughts.
ALLEN: Well, Wolf, you know, at the same moment that none of us are particularly surprised -- we all considered him frontrunner. On the other hand, I have to confess that I'm astonished. And astonished not because it was improbable that Cardinal Ratzinger would be selected, but I suppose just the historical nature of the moment that we're witnessing. I think it is -- it is a kind of remarkable choice. And it's quite clear that the cardinals -- the cardinals were so deeply impressed with those personal qualities, and also his accomplishments that we were discussing just a few moment ago, that they decided he simply was the obvious choice.
Let me also add, I'm struck by the fact that he has taken as his name Benedict the XVI. Benedict the XV, in the early part of the 20th century, was one of the shortest-reigning popes of the century. And Cardinal Ratzinger, of course, has just celebrated his 78th birthday on Saturday.
Now, I don't want to read too much into that, but this may well be a man who realizes that this may not be another 26, almost 27-year pontificate like the one that just ended of John Paul II. It is a breathtaking, a staggering choice, Wolf. And I think we'll be spending the next several hours, if not days, sorting through what it all means.
BLITZER: And what happens now? We see they're getting ready for Cardinal Ratzinger. Now he will be Pope Benedict XVI. What happens next? He will emerge from those curtains.
ALLEN: That's exactly right. In a few moments now, Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, will step out onto that central balcony of St. Peter's Square and he will deliver the urbi et orbi (ph) blessing to the city and to the world. Now, let's remember that when Karol Wojtyla, the cardinal of Krakow did that in October 1978, in addition to the traditional blessing formula, he also ad- libbed a few words. We'll be waiting to see if Cardinal Ratzinger does that today.
BLITZER: Let's bring in Jim Bittermann. Give us your thoughts, Jim. You've been covering this story for so many years and you've done an excellent job setting the stage for Cardinal Ratzinger to be elected pope. Give us your thoughts at this moment.
BITTERMANN: Well, it's hard for me to believe that there wasn't at least some controversy in the decision of Cardinal Ratzinger. It's amazing to me, because for one thing, he's a curial (ph) cardinal. He's not a pastoral man. We heard from so many cardinals around the world, that the fact is, they felt that a pastoral cardinal would have to follow into John Paul II's shoes. He is also a very strict fundamentalist.
And we heard that in the speech that he delivered just as the conclave was beginning. He had the last word as the conclave began, and basically said that the church should stick to fundamentals. So I think you can expect a pontificate that is going to be very hardlined indeed on a doctrineal issues.
He is, for instance, very much opposed to any kind of outreach to homosexuals, who are practicing homosexuals. He's very much opposed to gay marriage. He's -- one of the things he's sort of known as "Cardinal No" for some of his positions that he's taken, very hardlined positions. Would he moderate them as pope? Hard to say. But it's -- it is -- it is a really astounding choice and it does set a very clear path for the church, I think. We're going to see a church here that's going to go down a very clear line over the next few years.
The one thing, though, is the choice of this name. That is interesting, John, about Benedict XV, the idea that perhaps Cardinal Ratzinger has it in his mind not to go on past the age of 80 now. A roar from the crowd. I think we're going to see the new pope in just a second.
BLITZER: Here he is! There he is. That's Pope Benedict XVI. He has emerged. Joseph Ratzinger, the cardinal from Germany, he just turned 78 years old only three days ago on April 16th. He has now been elected Pope Benedict XVI. He's from Germany. He was named the dean of the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II on November 30th, 2002. Let's listen to the new pope.
POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): Dear brothers and sisters, the great Pope John Paul II. The cardinals have elected me to work in the vineyard of the Lord. I'm consoled by fact that I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of Christ resurrected, the Lord will help us to grow ahead, and Maria is on our side -- Mary.
(SPEAKING IN ITALIAN)
BLITZER: Pope Benedict XVI, 78 years old. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the successor to Pope John Paul II. A moving moment in the history of the Catholic Church. The whole world was in fact watching. John Allen, I take it all of that went pretty much according to script, or was there some new deviation from tradition?
ALLEN: Well, actually, Wolf, there were a couple of interesting wrinkles. One is that when Cardinal Medina Estevez came out to make the habemus papam (ph) announcement, rather than going directly to the Latin formula, he actually began by greeting the brothers and sisters, as he called them, in several different languages, a gesture that I think one can fairly read as a tribute to the universality of the church, and I think as Alessio was describing earlier, also the universality of the crowd assembled in St. Peter's Square, a truly international mix of people.
And then of course Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. We'll all have to become accustomed to referring to him that way now. When the pope came out into the balcony of St. Peter's Square for his (INAUDIBLE) blessing, he did make a few remarks, original remarks, before reciting the Latin formula of the blessing, entrusting himself to the prayers of the faithful gathered here.
By the way, it should be pointed out that his Italian was spot on. That's one of the virtues of having been a Vatican official for some 24 years, is that although he does not come from Italy himself, he certainly knows this culture and knows this language, and knows these people. And certainly from that point of view, will be excepted as the shepherd of the diocese of Rome immediately, entrusting himself to their prayers, and obviously invoking also the protection of Mary. And at the very beginning, Wolf, of course, connecting himself to the pontificate that just ended. He referred to after the great pontificate of John Paul II. And of course no one knew that pontificate from the inside better than the new pope, Benedict XVI, having been the righthand man, so to speak of John Paul II for all those years.
So some individual touches, but in general, the individual touches within a formula that played out, more or less, according to script
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: The cardinals that we're seeing, they emerged from other balconies to watch this history unfold. The people are still there, even though the pope, the new pope, Pope Benedict XVI, has gone back inside. The whole -- the whole notion of the other cardinals coming out to applaud and to watch, is that part of the tradition there? You see some live pictures.
ALLEN: Yes, Wolf. This is not uncommon. Often some of the cardinals will accompany the new pope down the Hall of Blessings with him and will stand behind him as he gives the Urbi et Orbi blessing.
There we see several of the cardinals, including Cardinal Shonbern (ph) of Vienna, Cardinal Haranz (ph), one of the world's two obfusce (ph) cardinals and a top Vatican official, waving to the crowd before they go back inside.
We don't know what the immediate future holds for the cardinals, Wolf. The last time when Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978, he actually asked them to stay the evening and dine with him. We don't know if Pope Benedict VI -- XVI has issued a similar invitation to these cardinals. So we'll have to wait and see.
Another point, of course, is that once the cardinals are released from the conclave, whether that's this evening or tomorrow morning, what ends with the conclave is, of course, the press blackout that has imposed on the last couple of weeks. And so we would expect in relatively short order the cardinals to begin telling the story, within the limits, of course, of their vows of secrecy. But begin telling us what they feel they can about the events of the last 24 hours inside this very rapid and obviously very decisive conclave.
BLITZER: I thought they were bound by secrecy, and they're not supposed to say anything about what happened during the conclave.
ALLEN: Well, Wolf, they're bound not to reveal the secrets of the conclave, meaning that they can't give us round-by-round vote tallies, and they can't give us inside information about privileged communications.
But in the past, they have been willing to give us a little bit of color. I mean, for example, what the new pope's first words were, perhaps, after accepting the office. Or to describe in a general term the mood, the atmosphere inside the conclave.
And of course, let's not forget, they're also going to have to go back home to their diocese and explain to Catholics on the ground, so to speak, in various parts of the world why this pope was elected. And in general terms, where they expect him to go.
Obviously, Wolf, this is going to be an especially challenging task in some ways for cardinals from northern Europe and to some extent from North America, where Cardinal Ratzinger, although a universally respected figure, has been, in some ways, a divisive figure. And Pope Benedict XVI, in that sense, will begin with a bit of a -- with a bit of baggage. And these cardinals will certainly want to begin the process of explaining to Catholics back home how they got to interpret this election and what to expect.
BLITZER: For our viewers who are just tuning in, we have seen history unfold at the Vatican, the election of a new pope, Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Germany, no longer cardinal, now pope, Benedict XVI. He's 78 years old. He was named a cardinal in 1977. He is now Pope Benedict XVI. A German has emerged as the new pope.
Our Alessio Vinci is on the ground at St. Peter's Square. Alessio, give us a little flavor what people are saying to you.
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I don't know if these television pictures can convey the emotions here in St. Peter's Square, but we do really feel that we are in the center of the universe right now, certainly, in the center of the Catholic universe.
There are tens of thousands of people here in St. Peter's Square. Some of them are already leaving. Some of them are staying here just to savor this very historic day here in St. Peter's Square. The last time around, 26 years plus.
A lot of people here from all around the world just able to say one day to their children, their friends, to their family members, "I was in St. Peter's Square when Pope Benedict XV -- XVI was elected."
Now, as you know, former Cardinal Ratzinger, a German, has been elected pope. And I have here with me Tobia Filler (ph), who is a friend and a colleague from the German newspaper, "Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung," based in Frankfurt.
Yourself, you are Bavarian, just like Cardinal Ratzinger, or pope, now Benedict XVI. Now, tell me, first of all, how do you think Germany feels at this time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be divided. On the one side, there's the majority of Protestants who will follow very closely what the new pope will say about communism.
On the other hand, certainly there will be some joy, especially in Bavaria, which is very Catholic, and then there will be a lot of questions about how Ratzinger will change personality. Because he was known -- he was known before as somebody who was followed -- who followed -- of the history from centuries, and he now interpreted -- interpreted this in a very different way. But anyway, he's going to be criticized.
VINCI: Give me a sense about how much Germany was expecting this? I mean, Cardinal Ratzinger's name came out virtually everywhere, not only in the German press but also around the world. How much do you think people really believed it?
I saw last night a television report in which the brother of former Cardinal Ratzinger, now pope, was actually saying that he knew his brother didn't want this job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't really believe it. They really didn't believe it. They thought that it was going to be quite improbable to have him as a pope.
VINCI: What do you think Cardinal Ratzinger will do as his first move? Do you think he will travel to Germany? Do you think he will try to follow in the steps of the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the last pope already agreed to come to the youth meeting in Cologne in summer. Apart from this, I believe that he will not be one of the popes trying to travel more to attract even more millions. But he'll try to bring some modern interpretation to the words that the church is using.
Because the last pope came from a rather popular belief in Poland, whereas the new one tries to see things in a more philosophical way. And you know, there's lots of people who try to put a sense of their life and want the things in a more modern way to have a link between the beliefs of the church and philosophy and the life of today. And I believe that Ratzinger is able to give a link in this sense. VINCI: You know, Tobias (ph), you say that Germany will be divided. Certainly, we do not have -- I mean, we do know that in some ways Ratzinger could be somewhat a divisive figure or somebody who has been very conservative in his views.
I really didn't have the feeling today here in St. Peter's Square as his name was pronounced that the crowd here was divided. I think that regardless of where this man comes from and his ideas, especially ideas regarding more conservative and traditional doctrine, if you want, I think that the people here really will welcome him as simply their pope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me go back 20 years, and Ratzinger was a very, very loved cardinal of Munich. And 20 years ago, Ratzinger came to the Catholic meetings of Munich. And when he was just a cardinal here in Italy, in Rome, and he was one of the stars of the meeting.
So you couldn't say that Ratzinger was always seen in a negative way. Ratzinger has also a past of being a star as a German cardinal.
VINCI: Were you in Munich 20 years ago when he was cardinal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
VINCI: Tell me something about those years. I mean, how much do you remember about Cardinal Ratzinger, or Archbishop Ratzinger, when he was in Munich those years? What do you remember about him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you can -- you can imagine these meetings of 100,000 Catholics every two years in Germany. And at these times, there were all discussions about nuclear weapon weapons and about abolishing weapons and so on, about.
In this case, Ratzinger was the star of the meetings. He was able to fill halls with 2,000, 3,000 participants. To hear him discuss, from a very philosophical way, a very philosophical position, all the -- all his arguments that were discussed with politicians. But he was in a different world. He was on a different level, without declaring himself pro or con.
VINCI: Now, most of the people, of course, around the world know only one pope, and that is John Paul II. And the kind of appeal that he had with large crowds, with the young people, especially.
Do you think that Cardinal Ratzinger, or the pope now, will have that kind of impact with the people? Does he have that kind of connectivity, if you want, with large crowds? We've got a glimpse of him here on the balcony. Of course, it was quite easy. The crowd was ecstatic. But as you look forward, do you think he will have that ability that John Paul II had to connect directly with the people and especially the young?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be seen, because he was a cardinal in the Vatican for 20 years. If he had this ability as a cardinal in Munich, he has certainly not practiced for the last 20 years. So in this sense, I'm quite curious to see what he's going to do. Certainly, you can see that he's not turning an ear (ph) to the crowd as was the last pope, and he didn't interact so closely as the last pope.
VINCI: Thank you very much...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
VINCI: ... for joining us. And good luck to you. You're probably going to Germany to write a lot of stories about the pope. All right. But thank you very much to you. Bye-bye.
All right, Wolf. As you can see, this is -- I got lucky here. One of my colleagues is joining me here. This is just, of course, one opinion on Cardinal Ratzinger. Of course, as the days and the weeks progress, we will have a better picture about who really this new pope is.
But certainly, here in St. Peter's Square, no matter how traditional and no matter how strict in his doctrine Cardinal Ratzinger may have been throughout his years as cardinal, the crowd here simply and literally exploded in joy when his name was pronounced out of the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Alessio, thank you very much. We'll have you stand by.
It's been 1,000 years or so since a German was elected pope. The last time in the 11th Century now, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI elected, the 265th pope.
Joining us now is someone who knows Cardinal Benedict XVI quite well, Father David O'Connell, the president of the Catholic University of America. He's joining us on the phone.
We spoke yesterday, Father O'Connell about this possibility. You said he was simply a lovely, lovely cardinal, soft, outgoing, warm. Obviously, you're not surprised.
FATHER DAVID O'CONNELL, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA: Yes, Wolf. First of all, I'm sorry I'm not with you. I feel like I should be sitting next to you right now. This is news of great joy, I think, for the church.
As I mentioned to you yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with the cardinal on several occasions. And on each occasion, I was very impressed with the humility of the man, even in his first spoken words today. "The Lord has chosen a simple, humble worker in the vineyard," and he said that he is consoled. And this is a great burden that's been placed on his shoulders. He's consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work with sufficient instruments.
And I'm convinced that this man believes that with all his heart, that he is a humble worker for Christ and for the Lord and that this -- this responsibility that's now thrust upon him is the way in which he will finish out his life, in service of the lord he's worked for all his life.
BLITZER: At least two-thirds of the cardinals who were present, the 115 electors, if you will, they agreed with you. It happened so quickly. Were you surprised, Father O'Connell, by how speedily this all went down?
O'CONNELL: Well, you remember yesterday, you asked me if I would be shocked. And I said no, I wouldn't be shocked but I would be surprised. And I am very surprised that this happened so quickly.
Yesterday, as you recall, going into the conclave, the mass that was celebrated by Cardinal Ratzinger, the homily that he gave, actually very strong homily in support of holding fast to church teaching and church doctrine in the midst of the winds of change. And some -- some of the folks who had been watching speculated that that homily, perhaps, hurt his chances of being elected pope. And obviously, that was not the case.
This is a man who will -- who will make fidelity to the church's teaching central in his papacy, but contrary to what some people will say, I don't think he will hammer people over the heads with it. I think he will invite people to accept the Lord and accept the church, and I just think this is wonderful news.
BLITZER: His reputation on church doctrine was that of a hardliner. And perhaps some have suggested even more hard line than Pope John Paul II himself. Do you accept that characterization of now Pope Benedict XVI?
O'CONNELL: Well, I think if you look at the life of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger, you know, around the time of the second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, he was already well known for his theological expertise. He participated in the council as a consulter for the Vatican Council. He had already been a published theologian. And I think as people who knew him in those days considers him quite progressive.
There has been a steady evolution in his own thinking and in his own approach to theology as the years have gone on, from being more progressive to someone who would be more traditional and more conservative in his approach.
And I think for Pope John Paul II, this man has served as -- as the custodian of the church's doctrine, and I think a great confidant of the pope and a much loved adviser to Pope John Paul II.
BLITZER: Father O'Connell, we're going to be speaking with you throughout the day here on CNN. But thank you very much for some initial thoughts on the selection of Pope Benedict XVI.
I want to bring back our Delia Gallagher, our Vatican analyst.
Delia, when you first heard that it was Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and he has emerged as the clear choice of these 115 cardinal electors, the 114 others who made this selection, was it almost -- did it almost take your breath away?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Yes. That's exactly the right words, I think, Wolf. And my initial thought was, I wonder what Cardinal Ratzinger was thinking, because I know that he had intended to -- he wanted to retire. Even when he was 75, he was asking the pope if he could retire from his position at the congregation of the doctrine of the faith. And the fact that he stayed on showed his loyalty to the pope. But I know that he had intentions of sort of retiring. He's an intellectual, and he perhaps wanted to at least spend some of his life in his studies.
Now, the other thing that strikes me is that the -- Pope Benedict XVI has spent most of his time here at the Vatican at the helm of a congregation which is in charge of being the doctrinal -- doctrinal watchdog. It has not been a congregation where he has been able to show any sort of a pastoral nature.
And I think that we have heard testimony from people today who have said -- and I will testify to it, as well -- that the cardinal personally is a man who is very gentle and very kind. And I think that it will be interesting to see if some of those qualities now as pope will come out in a way that they couldn't in his position as head of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
BLITZER: Delia, let me read to you the translation of what he said. His first words, he said, "Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."
And he went on to say, "The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all, I entrust myself to your prayers. I entrust myself to your prayers."
Now, some of his critics will accuse him of false modesty. But what do you make of those first words that he uttered?
GALLAGHER: Well, absolutely not. I don't think there's any false modesty about Cardinal Ratzinger. I think that he is a genuinely holy man. And I do think that is something that we can't underestimate in the position of pope, carrying this very great weight.
I think the problem with Cardinal Ratzinger has been his reputation, because he has been such an intellectual force in the church. And so he hasn't, perhaps, allowed this more gentle, humble pastoral side to come out.
He comes from a sort of modest family in Germany. His father was a police officer, et cetera. He doesn't come from any sort of aristocratic background. He is humble. And I think that most of the people here who have worked with him at the Vatican know and can attest to the fact that personally, he has very many good qualities.
Whether they are the same qualities of Wojtyla in the sense of communication, that is Pope John Paul II, and his ability with crowds, I don't know. And it may be that the theory that one pope follows another, and they're quite different between those pontificates could be true in this sense.
But that doesn't mean, in any way, that the Catholics won't get behind a Pope Ratzinger. I think that that may be something very interesting to watch in the next few years, how this papacy develops. If this man changes, if the Catholic Church changes in some way under his guidance.
BLITZER: John Allen, let me bring you into this discussion as well. Only yesterday we heard him speak, then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI of the so-called dictatorship of relativism. What did he mean by that? Because it's caused somewhat of a stir.
ALLEN: Yes, Wolf. Well, obviously, this is of a piece with Cardinal Ratzinger's thought. I mean, he is a man who does not flinch from naming what he would consider to be the central threats to the faith in modern culture. And chief among them in his mind has long been relativism. That is the idea there is no such thing as absolute truth out there, or as we might call it, truth with a capital "T." And that all that exists are personal truths, your truth, mine and so on.
And that if that is the case, then obviously, then the Christian message is simply one option among many on the smorgasbord of ideologies and options for organizing one's life.
And he feels that that is a seduction that has to be resisted, that is that Christianity is predicated, so to speak, and on the existence of absolute truth.
And I think the thing about Ratzinger that has caused some people over the years to oppose him, but has also caused so many people to admire and respect him, is his unflinching capacity to speak the truth that he sees. He is not -- he is a man who is not afraid of causing division.
Now, I would hasten to add to that, I think the point Delia just made is absolutely right. That he has been in a job for 24 years where, to some extent, it has been his job to cause division. That is to say it has been his job to police the doctrinal boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church.
And inevitably, when you do that, there are going to be hurt feelings by people who find themselves on the wrong side of those lines.
But he is now in a job, that is being the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, where he has to be a universal pastor. And I think it will be fascinating in the coming days, weeks and months to see what new qualities, what hidden assets that brings out of him.
I do -- I am convinced that he will get a honeymoon. Catholics want their pope to succeed. And I think there will be an overwhelming desire to see him get off to a good start.
And you saw tonight, of course, a sort of beaming Joseph Ratzinger that, quite honestly, is a new face to the world in many ways. I mean, he is usually presented to be as very stern inquisitorial visages, because that aligns with the public perception of the man. But that's not the man we saw tonight, and it will be very interesting to see how he carries that forward.
BLITZER: He had that big, broad smile when he walked onto that balcony. And you're absolutely right, John. I had not seen that big smile from former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. I think that smile, that picture will be in a lot of front pages of newspapers around the world tomorrow.
Alessio Vinci is still down there at -- at St. Peter's Square. Alessio, update our viewers on the crowd beginning to thin out. I assume it probably is, but I don't know.
VINCI: They are, Wolf. They are beginning to go back to their homes or hotels or wherever they came from. And as I've been mentioning throughout the last few hours, this has been an international crowd from all around the world, from all the continents around the world. And no one, perhaps, has been as happy here as the Germans, of course.
And I'm being -- I'm joined here by three of them, who have been here on holiday. You are -- you planned this holiday a lot time ago. You did not come here because you were expecting a German pope. So first of all, let me ask you, how do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's great. It's the first German pope for 500, 600 years. I don't know. So we're happy.
VINCI: What about you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we're very proud to see this German pope here speaking to us. And we would like to see what he is doing to us (ph) next time.
VINCI: What about you? How did you feel when the name Joseph Ratzinger was pronounced on that balcony?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Different. He's very conservative. And I'm not quite conservative as he is, and I think the church has to develop. But I think he will -- he will use the heritage he has, and we have to see what's in the next 20, 30 years. But I don't think that anything will change in the next five, six years.
VINCI: Well, let's talk about his conservatism. I think that that's what most people now about Cardinal Ratzinger. He's a traditionalist, a man who's been -- you know, who's been saying all along, you know, the deepest positions of the Catholic Church is in its history. How much do you agree with what he has been saying and how much do you think his doctrine should be followed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest, for the last 20 years, we haven't heard too much from him. Because for 20 years now, he's here in the Vatican. So he followed John Paul, more or less, and I can't make up my mind about Cardinal Ratzinger's point of view. VINCI: If you could talk to him right now and you would say, OK, the one thing we really would like from you right now, what is it? What is it that has to be changed or what is it he has to preserve?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will I see the next female pope? Why not? Why couldn't this church, this Catholic Church change this point of view and make also women -- give them the power to be pope or cardinals or any other position inside of the church.
VINCI: Well, thank you very much to all of you. I think that, you know, the one thing we're not going to see any time soon, Wolf, with Cardinal Ratzinger becoming Pope Benedict XVI, is a pope -- is a pope woman.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: I suspect you're right, Alessio Vinci, on the ground for us doing an excellent job, as he always does.
Joining us now on the phone is a special guest, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete. He's joining us from New York.
Monsignor, thank you very much for joining us. Give us your immediate reaction to the naming of Benedict XVI, the former cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger?
MONSIGNOR LORENZO ALBACETE, FRIEND OF CARDINAL RATZINGER: Well, my immediate personal reaction, obviously, I was profoundly moved. I know him, and I wish him personally the best. And I'm moved at the level of the fact that I look at not only as somewhat interested in what's going on in the world, but I guess from a perspective of faith, too. So it's a very significant moment.
BLITZER: Talk a little bit, Monsignor -- talk a little bit about the man. Your impressions. You've known him for many years. Because we get one persona of a hardliner in public, but so many others have said when you speak with him personally, he's really a very soft, decent man and comes across a lot differently privately than his public persona would suggest.
ALBACETE: Absolutely. I think that is the most shocking aspect of it. Because one expects from the image, you know, something cold and with an oppressive certainty. That is not this man.
He is -- what struck me the most, even more than his intelligence, was his humility. This is a very simple, humble man.
Perhaps the thing that ruined his reputation is having the job he had. Because the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith is not the organ asked to try out new ideas, but precisely to preserve the tradition. So in a sense, I don't think the job did him justice and has caused this reputation that he will have to somehow, I hope, overcome.
The Ratzinger I know is the Ratzinger that back in 1968 and the year 2000 when the book was reissued, the book called "Introduction to Christianity," said the No. 1 problem with Christianity today is that it is not convincing as a way of life that is fully human. And the church has nothing more to do than to deal with this problem.
And this links, in my opinion, to his choice of name. It's not really Benedict XV he had in mind, although there is something interesting there about a short pontificate, the first one of the 20th Century.
But Benedict, St. Benedict, period, the founder of western monasticism, is credited by everyone of, in a sense, of bringing out a new civilization of humanism, of bringing out of Europe a new humanism. And I think this is the man's obsession. This is his concern. And this is what I think he will promote: lifestyles of convincing humanism among Christian communities.
BLITZER: What do you make of the fact that he is the first German elected pope in about 1,000 years? We've got to go back to the 11th century for a German to be named pope.
ALBACETE: Well, I don't want to be unfair. I am a Latin, so therefore I have a view of Germans as very cold and not oriented to hop around with salsa and everything, which is what I like to do.
But I think that there's the dramatic in that (ph) in many ways, the 20th Century horrors that he sees as, indeed, the drama of modernity begins in Germany. And yet also 20th Century thought, philosophy and even in theology, the influence of Germany is immense. It's amazing that out of Germany comes this man who wants now to offer a completely -- to offer an alternative to all of that.
BLITZER: We're looking at these live pictures, Monsignor. They're removing the emblem now on that balcony from which Pope Benedict XVI emerged only a little while ago and the world watched and learned some more about this new pontiff.
You know that everyone is going to be going back and taking a very close look, Monsignor, at his life. That only yesterday, there were stories that he briefly was in the Hitler Youth, that his father had been a Nazi, a member of the Nazi Party, although, as all of us know, he emerged as someone who worked closely with the Jewish community, with Israel over these years.
Give us some context about that moment in his history during the Nazi period in Germany.
ALBACETE: Well, in fact, I saw, I think in your program yesterday, someone answer that. Everybody has to be a Hitler Youth, and his father, on the contrary, was a firm anti-Nazi. I don't know. I can't judge what life was like then.
But I do know this man has not a shred of anti-Semitism in him. And in so many ways, it is the opposite. I have heard him say that if Christianity separates itself from Jewish origins, it becomes destructive. This is not the words of an anti-Semite.
And all of that, I think I want to plug a book, this book "Introduction to Christianity," because it has there the agenda he will follow. And I don't get any royalties out of it, by the way.
BLITZER: Monsignor, the fact that he's 78 years old and Pope John Paul II was 58 years old when he was named pope in 1978, what do you make of that 20-year age difference?
ALBACETE: I think that in so many ways, Pope John Paul II had to change the orientation of the church, to become more involved in the struggle for an authentic humanism and had to deal with the threat at that time. And also some interior changes to put more emphasis on the person of Christ, et cetera. But these are not of public interest anyway. So that required a massive effort. I think this man will now take that for granted and begin to build on this legacy.
BLITZER: Do you know, Monsignor, the last time Pope Benedict XVI as cardinal came to the United States?
ALBACETE: No, I really don't. The last time I saw him in the United States, it was in San Francisco, and we ran into each other in the street. But I don't know. He used to come back and forth a lot. But no, I don't remember the last time. The last time I saw him was in Rome.
BLITZER: But as far as you know, he has a good relationship with the 11 American cardinals?
ALBACETE: Oh, yes, I think so. Obviously, not everybody thinks the same way, and they would have certain concerns, you know, that they may not think the same way in terms of style and everything. But oh, yes, I think the American cardinals trust him. I think all (INAUDIBLE).
This was a very fast election. They sat down and said, you know, at this moment, this is really the guy that knows the most what's going on. In Rome last time, I was amazed that the -- you're fishing around, foreseeing the mood of cardinals and everything. I was amazed to discover that their main interest was not really something within the church. They were looking for someone that would help understand the present world, the world in which we live. There was this conviction of the East/West conflict-dominated world, which John Paul II addressed, and from which he came had already seen. So we were facing a brand-new situation, and they were looking for someone, and that was my impression back then, that would understand this and would point the church to respond to this new situation. And I think finally they realized that the only one was really studied this so relentlessly in the past 20-something or so years is this man.
BLITZER: Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, a theologian joining us on the phone from New York. Thank you so much Monsignor for sharing your thoughts.
ALBACETE: Thank you. You're doing a great job, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, monsignor, on this historic day.
John Allen is our vatican analyst, listening and watching, absorbing everything we've been saying. John, the notion of a Pole replacing an Italian, and now a German replacing a Pole, what does that say to you?
ALLEN: Well, I mean, first of all, Wolf, I think what it says is that quite honestly, the cardinals in this conclave probably were not thinking especially in geographical terms, because this is one European nation replacing another. I suppose you could make an argument that it once again shatters the Italian monopoly on the papacy and so forth.
But I suspect the predominant thing in the minds of this conclave was simply their conviction that Joseph Ratzinger was the best for this job. And his nationality, to some extent, was irrelevance.
And I would further add that Cardinal Ratzinger, precisely because he is speaks such a polyglot (ph), that is, he speaks so many languages, will start with an enormous advantage as the pope of the universal church. Of course, the Vatican's working languages are French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, English, German and Polish. Cardinal Ratzinger speaks all of those languages with some degree of facility. And he will, in that sense, from the very beginning be a kind of universal figure.
BLITZER: Over the years, John, when you've spoken with him -- and I'll let you continue in a second. When you've spoken with him over the years, have you spoken with him in English? And if you have, how is his English?
ALLEN: His English is superb, Wolf. It's a bit accented, of course. But no, his English is quite good. And, in fact, my conversations with him have been in both English and Italian. And I will tell you, his Italian is even better than his English. In that sense, he has a remarkable capacity for languages. And certainly Cardinal Ratzinger would be, in the Catholic world, seen as one of the foremost intellectuals, theologians of his generation.
Let me pick up very quickly on two points of your conversations with Monsignor Albacete. You asked about Cardinal Ratzinger and the American cardinals, and I agree with Monsignor Albacete said. It could probably be noted also that he has a very special relationship with one American bishop. That's Archbishop William Laveda (ph) of San Francisco, who actually worked for Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith back in the early '80s. But, of course, most of the American bishops would have had dealings with Ratzinger's office over the years, and to some extent would know him and feel comfortable with him.
Very quickly, about the business of Ratzinger and the Nazi party, Ratzinger was never a member of the Nazi Party. He was actually in what would be the equivalent of America in high school. When membership in the Hitler youth was made compulsory, he and his brother were both enrolled automatically.
Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, asked to be taken off the rolls, never attended meetings or activities. He was later forcibly conscripted into the German army, and spent a few months guarding -- as part of an aircraft battalion guarding a plant outside Munich. He later deserted, and actually ended up in an American POW camp for a brief period of time.
So I don't think there's any criminal case on the record that can be made that either the pope or his immediate family had any sympathy for the Nazi ideology. Quite the contrary. All the evidence indicates that they were opposed to it.
BLITZER: And all the evidence also indicates that he had a very good relationship with the Allies during World War II, those countries that emerged after World War II, the British, the French, and also with the Jewish community and with Israel he was very instrumental in that moment when Pope John Paul II established diplomatic relations with Israel.
ALLEN: Yes, that's right. And, of course, Ratzinger's approach to this would, of course, in the first place be a theological approach. I recall once that Cardinal Ratzinger was in a conversation with a leader of the American Jewish community, and this leader asked Cardinal Ratzinger, does the holy land have theological significance for Christianity? And Cardinal Ratzinger's response was, of course it has theological significance for us, because it has theological significance for you. And this indicative of his desire to emphasize the bonds that unite the people of the book, the Jewish community and Christianity.
One other point, perhaps, about Cardinal Ratzinger's biography in this regard that might be interesting, Wolf, is to note that this, again, as Monsignor Albacete said, that Cardinal Ratzinger sums up in his own life much of the history of the Catholic Church in the 20th century. As a young theologian, he was very much part of the progressive councilor (ph) majority at Vatican II, 1962 to 1965. He was the paretus (ph), or theological adviser, to Cardinal Joseph Frings (ph) of Germany.
In that capacity, ironically, Ratzinger actually ghostwrote a speech for Cardinal Frings, in which he called the holy office -- what was called then, today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- a scandal to the world. And ironically, he ended up heading that office a few decades later.
Cardinal Ratzinger, after the student protests of the late 1960s, did move steadily to the right and became what many people would see as a much more conservative figure.
Again, it will be interesting, Wolf, to see if now, in this new chapter of his life, as Pope Benedict XVI, he manages somehow to unite these two strains of his biography, that is that youthful progressive dynamism, and that somewhat older, more conservative defensive position, if he can somehow weave these two things together in an approach to governance that will have something for all of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
BLITZER: And briefly, John, the name Benedict XVI. Initially we made some comments about Benedict XV, Pope Benedict XV. Although you heard Monsignor Albacete say St. Benedict more of an appropriate starting point for the selection of this name. Your thoughts? ALLEN: Oh, I think both points are probably true. I mean, Cardinal Ratzinger, in addition to being a gifted theologian, is also a master of church history. He knows the tradition very well. And this will not have been an accidental choice.
Now, it may well be in the days to come, Cardinal Ratzinger himself, that is to say -- I'm sorry, we have to train ourselves now to refer to him as the pope. Pope Benedict XVI may himself explain the logic for the choice. But I suspect in his mind were both of these things. First of all, as monsignor said, Gregory -- or rather St. Benedict, the founder of the Western monastic tradition. But also I'm sure in his mind someplace was the knowledge that Benedict XV, who was pope from 1914 to 1922. This was the second shortest pontificate of the 20th century. That a man who just turned 78 and is thinking about what the future might hold as the head of the Roman Catholic Church would certainly be conscious of the possibility that his, too, could -- and we should emphasize could -- be a short pontificate. So I would suspect that both of those things were in the background of the choice.
BLITZER: John Allen, standby.
Alessio Vinci is down at St. Peter's Square. He's getting reaction to the naming of Pope Benedict XVI.
Alessio, tell our viewers what's happening where you are.
VINCI: Well, Wolf, portions of the people were here earlier today have now left, but I can tell you there are still several tens of thousands of people now just in St. Peter's Square, but also throughout this area. Clearly everybody wants to be here for this historic day. Last time the pope was elected in St. Peter's Square was more than 26 years ago and so no one, absolutely no one who is in this square wants to miss any moment of this historic event.
Now among the people here in St. Peter's Square is Richard Wohl (ph) who is an American here on pilgrimage. Now, you have met John Paul II ten times so you obviously are happy now that a man who was so close to John Paul II has been elected pope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Alessio, I am. You know, it's sort of a bittersweet thing when pope John Paul II died. But I feel the cardinals couldn't have made a better choice. Cardinal Ratzinger will be someone who I think will consolidate and continue the work of Pope John Paul II. I think he's an excellent choice because he's been at the Vatican for more than 20 years, but he's also got pastoral experience from his time as the archbishop of Munich and he's an intellectual powerhouse.
And I think the way he's portrayed by a lot of the press is not accurate. I mean, my wife Margaret and I have met him on a number of occasions, and he's a very courteous man, a very humble man and has a great sense of humor.
VINCI: Well, tell me about those encounters. When was the last time, first of all, you met him and what do you remember about that time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let's see, I think the last time we saw him, he was just walking through St. Peter's Basilica, and we visited. And then we also saw him -- he used to say the mass quite frequently at the Deutsche here, for the German church, inside the Vatican, every Thursday morning that he was in town and available and he'd always visit with people afterwards. It was like a parish priest or something in the vestibule after mass. And he was always in good humor and always interested in what was going on in the United States. And he speaks wonderful English. I think he's a great choice for pope.
VINCI: Now, of course, as you mentioned, some of the press has been quite negative, if you want, towards cardinal or now Pope Benedict XVI. And you know, and one would associate Germans with people who do not necessarily have a contact with crowds, with large people. John Paul II was definitely a person who managed to connect with the crowd. What do you think -- how well will Pope Benedict XVI, former Cardinal Ratzinger, be able to communicate with the crowds and be able to continue in what John Paul II has done?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he certainly has a different personality from Pope John Paul II. I always found him to be somewhat more shy and retiring. But I think we saw on the grand loggia there -- I thought he connected very well with the crowd. They were very enthusiastic, and I think he connected with them beautifully.
VINCI: Now, of course, one big event coming up in the Vatican calendar is the World Youth Day, something that John Paul II instituted more than, what, 20 years ago, I believe, or 15 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some years ago.
VINCI: Is going to happen in Germany.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will.
VINCI: So, I mean, obviously, would you expect perhaps that to be a cardinal or Pope Benedict XVI's first trip? How well do you think his mroe conservative stance will work with the young crowd?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't think he's really any different theologically from Pope John Paul II. And it's not about conservatism or liberalism. I think it's a matter of the truth, and that's what Pope John Paul II was committed to as pope, that's what Pope Benedict XVI is and will be committed to, and I think he'll connect with the crowds just as well and the young people just as well as the previous pope.
VINCI: Richard, thank you very much for joining us here again. And I'm going to turn around here...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my pleasure.
VINCI: Thank you very much, Richard. Thank you very much. And Wolf, I have another guest here who is a German priest. I just mentioned -- sir, give me your name first and what do you do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Brother Sylvester Haremann (ph).
VINCI: Where are you from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: I'm German.
VINCI: From where?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: Dusseldorf.
VINCI: From Dusseldorf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: From North Germany.
VINCI: OK. So how well do you know now the new pope, Benedict XVI?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: Benedict XVI. I had the grace of meeting him several times before, right over there in a little chapel where he used to celebrate mass every Thursday for the German seminarians and German students.
VINCI: Wonderful. So tell me what kind of a guy is he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: He's a very nice guy. I was always impressed by the simplicity with which he talks to you. He would always have time and be very attentive and listen and was a very humble, like he said in his first words right now on the balcony. I consider myself a humble worker in the venino (ph). And he transmits that very naturally. I think he doesn't think very highly of himself. That makes him very nice.
VINCI: Is he an accessible person? I mean, we know that John Paul II had this incredible gift of communicating with the large crowds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: Yes.
VINCI: Do you think that's the same of him? Will he be able to have that kind of impact, you think, on the crowd and especially the young people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: On the crowd, we'll have to see. I mean, today was impressive, as he came out and immediately everybody started shouting Benedict, Benedict! I think he is a different person than Pope John Paul II.
VINCI: Well, many people actually describe him as, you know, John Paul II's enforcer, almost, you know the Vatican enforcer. So a lot of people believe he is very similar to him. In what ways is he different or will he be different from John Paul II, do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: His personality is probably different, because I think he's more -- in a way, he's maybe more timid as a person. But that doesn't make him a worse person. I think he is -- his gift is probably the personal dealings and also he's a great preacher. When he preaches, everybody is...
VINCI: Do you think this is the pope this church needed at this time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: If the holy spirit picked him, that's probably the one we needed.
VINCI: Right. And do you have -- you said you met him several times. Can you share with us some of these encounters that you had with him, or what do you remember about meeting him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: Apart from his way of dealing with people and listening to everybody, also his sense of humor. I don't remember any jokes because I have a terrible memory for jokes, but I remember that he's always very joyful and laughs at other people's jokes and also knows how to tell them.
And now something I remember, he's able to improvise an incredible sermon without any preparation. And you listen to it, and it sounds like from a book, you know? Just a sign of his intelligence. About anything. Once I was present when he received a German brewery, and like that, he gave a speech, the homily, on the relationship between beer and gospel and you know...
VINCI: You know, I'm fascinated. Do you remember anything about the homily? I really would like to know what is the relationship between beer and gospel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: You know, he started with saying in the Bible, it says that wine is a gift of God. So beer probably is, as well.
VINCI: Just because it's alcohol. That's fascinating. Listen, one more thing, what do you think this pope will have to do now? I mean, obviously, there's been a lot of attention on him. He was, indeed, one of the candidates, one of the favorites to become pope. I think this is one of the few times in church history where somebody who entered as pope actually came out from the conclave as pope.
People say, of course, here in Rome, and when you enter the conclave as pope, you come out as a cardinal. That was not the case for Cardinal Ratzinger. So what do you think will be his next step? Do you think -- will he try to reach out to those who believe that he is too conservative? Will he soften his stance a little bit? Or will he maintain his, you know, church doctrinal stance?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: I think he will definitely maintain his stand, because it's not his opinion, no? He never stood for his own opinion, but for what the church has always believed and always defended. And he does that with great respect for everybody and with a great love because these things, like also John Paul II thought, that there can only be love where there's truth. So I don't think he will change his opinion. I think he will go on doing the work that John Paul II did, trying to reach everybody with the gospel message, which is not always an easy message or an attractive message. VINCI: Do you think that he will have to travel as much as John Paul II did? I mean, he is a (INAUDIBLE), he speaks many languages, so he can travel and connect to many people around the world. But do you think that he will travel, that he will pick up on what John Paul II has left behind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: I think so. And probably his first big trip will be to the World Youth Day in Cologne in august. And I -- I mean, you'll have to ask him, but I think he's going to go on travelling.
VINCI: OK, Father, thank you very much.
OK, Wolf. Here is another German point of view on Cardinal Ratzinger. As you can imagine, the crowd here behind us, still very much savoring this historic moment, and I do predict, they will be here for many hours to come. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: The first German pope in about 1,000 years. Got to go back to the 11th century when there was a German pope. Pope Benedict XVI. Now 17 days after the death of pope John Paul II, there is a new pope, and we're getting reaction.
Let's bring in Bishop William Skylstad. He's the president of U.S. Conference of Bishops. He's joining us on the phone. A very exciting moment for millions and millions of Catholics. Give us your reaction, Bishop, to what has happened.
BISHOP WILLIAM SKYLSTAD, PRES. OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS: Wolf, well, certainly, we rejoice in the election of Pope Benedict XVI. A bit of a surprise in the sense that the election came so quickly, but we rejoice and we certainly want to congratulate Pope Benedict XVI on this great honor, not only for him, but for all of us in the church.
BLITZER: What -- when you say it was a great surprise, there had been lots of speculation leading up to this moment that Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was the front- runner. Did you always assume, given the fact that he was, by far, the most powerful of the cardinals, that he was the front-runner?
SKYLSTAD: Well, the surprise for me was that the news came so quickly. Obviously, I think the cardinals had been discussing the issues of the needs of the church and who would fit that. I think from that standpoint, the election came very quickly, and it showed, I think, a pretty strong consensus, certainly a two-thirds consensus amongst the cardinal electors.
So from that standpoint, it'S wonderful that it happened very quickly. I think is showed agreement amongst them that was quite strong, very strong.
BLITZER: Since the lead the U.S. Conference of Bishops, give us your sense about Cardinal Benedict XVI's relationship with America, with Americans, with American Catholics.
SKYLSTAD: Well, Wolf, you know, over the last three years, as vice president of the Conference of Bishops, going to Rome with Archbishop Gregory and meeting with him, I think we met with him over the last three years. We met with Cardinal Ratzinger and his office six times. I found him to be very -- a very humble man, certainly was very sensitive to our situation here in the United States, and also, I must say, very supportive of us.
Sometimes I think he is cast in a very conservative light. I found him to be very pastoral. I found him to be very concerned and caring, supportive, but also a man who, with a deep sense of humility, was committed to the mission of the gospel and furtherment of the common good. So those qualities are really wonderful in him.
BLITZER: So it's unlikely -- you believe -- and correct me if I'm wrong, bishop -- it's unlikely that while he is pope, we'll see any significant movement on some of the issues that have divided American Catholics over the contentious issues like birth control, or women ordination, or celibacy, or any of these controversial issues, is that your sense?
SKYLSTAD: Well, certainly as we deal with a very complex world and complex issues, there needs to be a guiding light from our own tradition, our own heritage in the church, and I think Cardinal Ratzinger, in a very difficult, complex time where there are challenges of traditional moral values that are very commonplace in our world, he really has been a kind of a Rock of Gibraltar, so to speak, a really solid foundation as we look to the future. As we look to the future, I think he will continue to be that as the holy father. It's -- you know, for him, lots of prayers and rejoice in his election.
BLITZER: He called himself a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. Very moving words when he first emerged on that balcony.
Bishop Skylstad, thanks very much for joining us, the president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops.
Let's bring back our Jim Bittermann. He's on the scene for us in Rome. Jim, you've had a chance, over the past hour or two, to -- it's been almost exactly now two hours since smoke began to emerge from that chimney. Originally, we weren't sure what was going on. It seemed sort of white, but it could have been gray. There were no bells for at least five or 10 minutes that were being rung. As a result, we were up in the air. We didn't know what was going on. But we certainly know what's going on right now. Give us your thoughts at this moment.
BITTERMANN: Well, a couple things, Wolf. We had to put to bed a couple of our myths here, one of them being when you go into a conclave as a pope, you come out as a cardinal. That just doesn't apply anymore, because Cardinal Ratzinger went in as the front-runner to be pope, and he came out as the pope, so that didn't quite work.
The other thing is that Cardinal Ratzinger is one of two of the 115 cardinals, one of the two who were not named by John Paul II. So he was actually named cardinal by Paul VI. So that whole line about the cardinals would all vote for somebody that would follow John Paul II's line because he appointed them all doesn't really hold because Paul VI appointed Cardinal Ratzinger.
Just a couple things on the kinds of things we've been hearing over the last hour or so, Wolf. One of the questions I have is how he's going to handle relations with other religions.
Four years ago, he wrote a very significant text, approved by John Paul II, called "Dominus Iesus," basically saying that the one true faith and the one way to heaven is through the Catholic Church, and that offended a lot of other religious groups and religions, to the extent that a number of cardinals that were involved in the humanism under John Paul II had to go out and try to mend fences.
So whether Cardinal Ratzinger will, as pope, keep to that same line is a good question, or whether he'll moderate his tone to other religions.
Now, another thing is that Cardinal Ratzinger is a person who was in charge of handling all the sex-abuse scandals in the United States for the Vatican. I'd like to bring into the picture here John Allen again who literally wrote the book on Cardinal Ratzinger.
And, John, I wonder how you feel that he handled the sex abuse scandals from the Vatican point of view.
ALLEN: Well, Jim, you're quite right. What John Paul I did in 2001, was he gave the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the legal responsibilities, so on to speak, to oversee and to process all the cases of sex abuse, charges of sex abuse against priests in the United States. I think most people feel that Cardinal Ratzinger's office, first of all, acted with extraordinary speed by Vatican standards, turning around some 700 cases in a matter of months, which, in a place where it sometimes takes months just to open the mail was quite an accomplishment.
And secondly, I think there was a sense that over the course of that time, that his office had a pretty steep learning curve to face in terms of sensitizing themselves to American realities. But at the end, got it about right, that is, applied a pretty uniform standard of justice, that in almost every instance, matched up with a sense that the American bishops themselves had had about how these cases ought to shake out.
So I think the point is that if American Catholics have been concerned going into this papal election about whether the next pope would come out as someone who understood the nature of the crisis that they've experienced, obviously, Pope Benedict XVI did not live it on American soil the way American Catholics did. So it doesn't have the same emotional register. But there is no one in Rome, and arguably no one inside the College of Cardinals, aside from the Americans themselves, who knows the inner details of the American crisis better than Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
BITTERMANN: How do you think that will impact in the governance of the church going into the future? ALLEN: Well, I actually wrote a column earlier this week, sort of speculating about what a Ratzinger papacy might look like, Jim, because we all knew that this was one of the possible scenarios. And one of the points I made there, I think cardinal, now Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger, undoubtedly, in this balance between being a pope odextra (ph) -- that is for the outside world -- and odentra (ph) -- that is inside the church -- will undoubtedly try to restore a bit more balance by being a bit more attentive to internal governance of the church. This, after all, has been his forte for a certain point of view for the last 24 years.
I think he will be a pope who will, to some extent, want to be a bit more involved in the day-to-day routine administration of ecclesiastical affairs. And on the sex crisis, therefore, I think he'd be someone who would probably be a bit more aggressive about involving himself, if he saw bishops who, in his view, were being negligent in their response to things like accusations of sexual abuse against priests, because in a way, that was the root of the crisis. It wasn't just the sex abuse. It was also the fact that several bishops failed to intervene when they should have, and, of course, perhaps transferred priests, or at least didn't act aggressively to make sure that children were no longer in harm's way, when they had all the information at their disposal they should have.
Many believe that part of the reasons bishops felt they could do that was because there wasn't an adequate sense of accountability from Rome. I'm quite sure that there will be an adequate sense of accountability from Rome under Benedict's XVI's papacy.
BITTERMANN: How do you think he's going to handle what is to many cardinals the biggest problem the church has, and that is the crisis in terms of priests, the number of priests, the priests shortage that has just been a bedrock problem for the church for some time now?
ALLEN: Well, I mean, any answer we could give to that now will be speculative, but let's speculate. My sense is that Pope Benedict XVI will not, in some wholesale fashion, do away with the discipline of priestly celibacy, if that's what you're asking. I suspect that he, like many of his brother bishops and cardinals, will believe that despite the fact that the church did have a married priesthood for the first 10 centuries of its history, nevertheless that priestly celibacy has a kind of valuable, spiritual meaning, the idea of total self- giving to God and service of others, that he will want to maintain.
I wouldn't exclude the idea however that Pope Benedict XVI might be open to some experiments with ordination of the so-called vere probati (ph). That is tested married men, particularly in areas of the world where the priest shortage is most acute, and this is not Europe or North America. This is places like Latin America, some parts of Asia, where parishioners might see a priest once every six months or once every year.
Cardinal Ratzinger, as I mentioned earlier -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- is an expert church historian. He knows very well that the issue of celibacy is a disciplinary, rather than a doctrinal problem, and therefore there's some room flexibility.
But even deeper than that, you asked, what would he do about the vocations crisis. My sense is that his first instinct will be to insist that the problem is not one of structures or disciplines; the problem is one of nerve. And if we have the courage to proclaim our traditional truths loudly and boldly, people will be attracted to that.
BITTERMAN: John Allen, thank you very much. Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Bitterman, John Allen, thanks very much there on the scene for us.
Let's recap what has happened over the past two hours. Just more than two hours ago, smoke began to emerge from the chimney at the Vatican. It was unclear whether it was white or gray or black. It looked white. But there were no bells that were tolling. As a result, some uncertainty for almost ten minutes, until the bells actually began to ring out. Bells ringing out, announcing that there was a new pope.
You're look at the new pope, Pope Benedict XVI. There he is, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, the most powerful of all the cardinals. He's 78 years old, only three days ago, he turned 78 years old. He emerged as the clear choice of the 115 cardinals under the age of 80 who were inside the conclave. Only about 24 hours since yesterday, and rather quickly, went on to elect Joseph Ratzinger, the cardinal, as Pope Benedict XVI. He emerged, spoke humbly of the awesome challenge that awaits him. He spoke movingly. His first words to the thousands that quickly jammed St. Peter's square, to make that announcement.
You see that broad smile, you see that broad smile on his face, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. We are now getting word, by the way that this Sunday, April 24th he will formally have his inauguration. Mass this Sunday, at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI will have his inauguration mass, his first mass as the new pope, as the 265th pope.
Our Alessio Vinci has been covering this story for a long time. He's on the ground at St. Peter's Square. Alessio, update our viewers on ways happening there.
VINCI: Hello, Wolf, as you can see here, probably, from these live picture, the election of the pope was announced about two hours ago. But St. Peter's Square and the area around it continue to be packed with pilgrims, with tourist, with people who wanted to be here on this historic day, to be able to say one day to a friend to a mother, to a father, to a son or daughter, that they were in St. Peter's Square on this historic day, when Pope Benedict XVI was elected. One more note, on that inauguration mass, which has been announced for, now, Sunday, 10:00 local time, here in St. Peter's Square. It is called an inauguration mass, Wolf. It used to be called a coronation mass.
Because up until Paul VI was crowned pope, it was -- the mass was called coronation. Then Pope Paul VI - actually, John Paul I sorry, who succeed Paul VI, refused to be crowned, refused to be brought in a procession in a throne. And therefore, ever since that day, 1978, the first John Paul I, the mass is no longer called a coronation mass, but an inauguration mass.
Now, here in the crowd, I met many people. Among them is a Norbitine (ph) Friar. His name is Brother Charbell (ph). First of all, let me ask you, I thought only popes could wear white on this day. Tell us a little bit about your demonination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an Orbitine (ph) habit and our order goes back almost 1,000 years, more or less 1121. So we also have been dressed in white, even before the Roman pontiffs wore white.
VINCI: How close are you, your denomination to the new pope? What is it like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are Roman Catholic, we are an order, an ancient order. We are canons regular, which basically means we stay in one church and sing psalms and also go out and teach high school.
VINCI: Okay, so tell me a little bit -- what are you -- what is your first reaction to the election of former Cardinal Ratzinger?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A great sense of joy. We were hoping for Cardinal Ratzinger because Cardinal Ratzinger I think is the only one who knows the mind of Pope John Paul II the best. The close confidant of the former Holy Father, the leader, the doctrine of the congregation of the faith so John Paul left really big, big shoe to fill. And I think the best person who can do it is now Pope Benedict XVI.
VINCI: So what is it that Benedict XVI has to do now do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, first thing, he's going to do, I'm sure, is, as he asks for people to do, is to pray for him confidence that the Lord and Our Lady and the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the church and we have been like sheep without a shepherd for a couple days, but now the Good Lord has provide us with vicar, the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI.
VINCI: In more lay terms, if I can ask you that, tell me a little bit, what are the challenges that the Roman Catholic Church faces today and how can Pope Benedict XVI fulfill those challenges?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great challenge is many people look to the Catholic Church for insight, for wisdom. The pope can do something that no one else can really do. He's a leader of over 1 billion people. He is the moral voice, the moral conscious to the world, a defender of life. He is a voice for those who have no voice. So it's very challenging. He has to meet with leaders, ambassadors. Millions of people will come to him for help. And so, yes, a very difficult job. But with the confidence that Jesus will guide him in the right way, no problem.
VINCI: You know, think people around the world began knowing cardinal Ratzinger only in the last few days when there was so much talk about who he was and -- the leading role that he took in -- as the dean of the College of Cardinals of course who elected him. But for those who don't know much about him around the world, you know, what kind of a person is he? And have you met him? And tell me a little bit about what you know about him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I met him walking to the piazza here before. The first thing that struck me, he's a very humble man, a simple man. He was the cardinal and he just walks like an ordinary person through the piazza. He's approachable, you can walk up and talk to him. He greets you. You say a few word and continues on his way. He's a German. He's organized, very methodic, systematic. He might seem a little bit cold but he's full of life, full of love. I know that John Paul is interceding, working from heaven to help Cardinal Ratzinger be the man that God has called him to be.
VINCI: Now, you know there were calls actually to beatify John Paul II. Do you think the chances of beatifying John Paul II have increased now that Ratzinger has been made pop?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. People were chanting "santo subito, santo subito" which means saint immediately, quickly. Just last Saturday, I met with the head exorcist of Rome, Father Gabriel Amorth (ph), and he said -- this is kind of strange, but true. When he does exorcisms, when he calls upon John Paul's intercession, his help, the demons that are tormenting these people are very afraid, they are very moved by John Paul's power. So he's still with us in a very strong way, more powerful way from heaven, from above.
VINCI: How spiritual is the new pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh he's very spiritual. And people know his mind. You can read his book, Ratzinger's report, "Introduction to Christianity," his various articles, all the things that have come to the congregation of the doctrine of the faith, you know his stance, he protects the traditional Catholic teachings. He won't be afraid to pull people in line, to discipline people who are going off astray a little bit. So he is the man for the job, definitely. And that's what the Holy Spirit has decided.
VINCI: Now, one of the biggest upcoming events, with the exception of the inauguration mass this coming Sunday is World Youth Day in Germany, in Cologne coming up this, in mid-August. Of course something that John Paul II instituted back, what, 15 or 20 years ago, I believe. So do you think that this pope will be able to connect with the young the same way pope John Paul II did? The reason I ask you this, is because obviously everybody speaks about how traditional and conservative Cardinal Ratzinger was up until now basically and we do not expect him to change much in his theology and teaching. So how well will he connect to the young people, especially, those people perhaps are asking for a church that's more modern, more open, more liberal perhaps?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question was asked of John Paul, John Paul, what is it that so many young people are attracted to you? He said it's the Holy Spirit. It's God himself. So Pope Benedict XVI will definitely attract young people. Because it's the truth that attracts young people. Though his teachings are conservative, there's a real beauty there. And providentially, it's in Cologne, it's in Germany, and we have a German pope. So the first Youth Day with this pope will be a hit. From there, every two years, the same thing will happen.
VINCI: Tell me where were you when he was announced pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in class until 5:00, 5:30, at the angelicum where the pope - Pope John Paul used to study. I got home. Some of my brothers were staying they're going to blow the smoke, they're going to blow the smoke. We jumped on our mountain bikes, which is the quickest way to get around here in Rome, we went through the river, we got here, all sweaty, got into the piazza, and then about 15, 20 minutes later be we saw the pope come out. And one of my brothers said are I hope it's a man with a lot white hair, meaning he hoped it was Cardinal Ratzinger, and it was, it was.
VINCI: I asked you this already, but just in case for those joining us now, what was your reaction? How did you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joy, tears. One of my brothers was jump up and down saying "it's good to be here. It's good to be here." We're thankful. It's like a euphoria. It's a real sense of like day- dreaming. It's a great monumental moment in history.
VINCI: Too bad you don't have your mountain bike because I really would like to know how you actually ride a mountain bike wearing a robe like that. It must be really a true challenge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to see it to believe it.
VINCI: Well, I'm sure this is something we'll be seeing quite a bit in the coming days. Now, let me ask you one more thing. If you could talk to the new pope right now, what would you tell him? I mean what would you ask for him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would reply to his question. He asked us for prayers. And so I ask all those watching to pray for this pope, to pray for the Catholic Church, to pray for all those of good will, to pray for what John Paul would want us to pray for, for peace, pray for all those who are suffering. Like John Paul said, do not be afraid. So we should not be afraid, but we should trust, Jesus, I trust in you.
VINCI: Now, you know there is of course at this time here in St. Peter's Square a great amount of joy for this -- for this pope, just simply because he is the new pope and I think he's been widely accepted, obviously, and there are very few people who are right now disappointed that this man has been -- this particular cardinal has been named pope and not another one. And as the days and week and months progress, how much do you think his popularity will maintain that kind of level and especially considering that his predecessor was a pope who remained extremely popular, you know, for the vast majority of his 26 years papacy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. This pope will grow in popularity because basically it come down to this. It is God who wants this man to be pope. And with that, all the goodness all the truth, his popularity will definitely increase, no doubt.
VINCI: Brother Charbell, thank you very much. You've been extremely interesting and good luck to you and to your studies as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless you.
VINCI: All right, thank you very much. All right, Wolf, well -- we're getting applause - Back to you.
BLITZER: Alessio Vinci, thank you, Alessio, very much. Stand by, we'll be getting back to you. Just want to announce -- report, the announcement from Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the spokesman for the Vatican, that the inauguration mass will occur this Sunday morning, St. Peter's Square. For those of you who want to set your alarm clocks right now, 10:00 a.m. local time in Rome, 10:00 a.m. at the Vatican, that would be 4:00 a.m. Eastern here in the united states. The inauguration mass.
And Joaquin Navarro-Valls also announcing Pope Benedict XVI is dining tonight with other Roman Catholic cardinals. Who exactly is the new pope, the former Cardinal Ratzinger? Our Jim Bittermann has been looking into that.
BITTERMAN (voice-over): He is a policeman's son who became the Vatican's enforcer. But Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is known best for his very public, very doctrinaire point of view. And as head of the Congregation of the Faith, the Vatican institution being which once ran the Inquisition, the prelate was in a powerful position to impose those views on fellow churchmen. He said, for example that modernity has led to a blurring of sexually identity, causing some feminists to become adversaries of men.
He called homosexuality an intrinsic moral evil. And he argued that Muslim Turkey did not belong in Christian Europe. Sometimes he even lobbied the pope into taking contentious positions. While John Paul spent most of his papacy try to reach out to other religions, Cardinal Ratzinger issued a paper saying that Catholicism was the only true religion and questioning the validity of other religion, even Christian ones.
Although objections came from even some of his fellow cardinals, the pope did not restrain Ratzinger, in part, because their friendship went back four decade to the time when the two were young priests at the Vatican II meetings in Rome. But a Ratzinger biographer believes there's another reason. JOHN ALLEN, AUTHOR, "CARDINAL RATZINGER": I thing the pope felt as long as he had Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Faith, then the church's faith was going to be safe.
BLITZER: Jim Bittermann, putting that report together for us. Joining us on the phone now, Father Joseph Fessio, he's the president of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. Someone who has some strong thoughts on this selection of Pope Benedict XVI. Father Fessio, we spoke about this only yesterday. Give us your reaction to Pope Benedict XVI.
FR. JOSEPH FESSIO, AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY (on phone): Herr Blitzer, Gruss Got. I think it's a great choice. I think it's wonderful in a church with so many scandals and difficulties and bishops you can't always trust they pick such a great and glorious man. He's gentle, he's humble, he's intelligent. He's with the church and this talk about him being more conservative than John Paul II, that's a bunch of hogwash. He will be no more conservative than John Paul II. He will be another pope keeping the tradition of the Catholic Church and do it in a very gentle way. He's great.
BLITZER: Tell us a little more what he is like. You've known him what, for 20 years?
FESSIO: One of my great blessings, Wolf, is to know him. He was my doctrine (ph) director from '72 to '75. I met with him pretty much every year after that. I helped to found a house in Rome with him, see him every year at least for an hour, been in meetings with him. You're never going to find a more gentle, serene sense of humor and listening. He's just completely opposite of the general media image of him. So we're going to find that out in the days to come.
BLITZER: We've heard other speculate the reason he had this more conservative hard-line public persona was the nature of his job almost as the enforcer of some of the orthodox doctrine of the Catholic Church. Was it simply because of what his responsibility was as the senior cardinal, or were there other aspects of this?
FESSIO: Wolf, let's make one thing very, very clear. Why was John Paul II so popular? Why did people off the streets come, even who criticize him? Because they knew he stood for the truth. He lived the truth, he preached the truth, he did not compromise. That's why he was loved.
And of course Ratzinger was in charge of the congregation to oversee the message given to us by God, by Christ. This is not something we can adapt to our own desires. This is the message of God to us. And a messenger doesn't change the message, he delivers it. The pope did a magnificent job of preaching that message and Ratzinger did a great job of making sure it was understood properly. So there's no big divide between John Paul II and Ratzinger. Why would John Paul II have kept Ratzinger on for 24 years, longest position ever given to anybody in the Vatican, you know offices there, if they weren't, you know, hand in glove? BLITZER: What about his style? Forget about -- if there's no difference in substance as far as doctrine is concerned, what about his style as compared to Pope John Paul II, in reaching out, especially to young people. Will he be able to do that?
FESSIO: He will because young people love the truth. He's older now than when John Paul II was pope. Now Ratzinger is 78. He's not going to be able to jump off the plane and kiss the ground, but he's so serene. He has such a wonderful smile. Anybody who has ever met him or worked with him, thinks he's a saint. His goodness, his holiness, love for the Lord and love for the church is going to go through everything he does. And he's very gentle. In a certain sense, the pope was energetic and active and compassionate. Cardinal Ratzinger, now, Pope Benedict XVI, you can see the serenity, that little smile on his face, see the gentleness. That's going to win hearts. I mean, he's won the heart of everybody who has ever been with him.
BLITZER: Is there a sense that you're getting why he's selected the name Benedict for -- Pope Benedict XVI? We've heard a couple different ...
FESSIO: Absolutely --
BLITZER: Couple different explanations but you probably have a good one yourself.
FESSIO: It has many, many levels. Of course I haven't talked to him yet. But seems to me, number one, Benedict was the great evangelizer of Europe who by his monasteries saved a falling and declining Roman Empire. The one superpower of its day was in decline, moral decline, and Benedict founded a monastery which founded a movement, which created all of Christendom which gave us the culture we have. He want to signal the fact we much re-Christianize, re- evangelize Europe and the world.
Secondly, Benedict's whole rational of living was the liturgy, the praise and worship of God, the liturgy, and if you read his book, Ratzinger's book, "the Spirit of the Liturgy," you'll find out he's got this vision for renewal of the Catholic (INAUDIBLE) mass. By the way, I'm also editor of Ignatius Press. Ignatius.com. We've got 12 books by Cardinal Ratzinger, his autobiography, his works in liturgy, his outline in 1986 of what he thought the church should do, "The Ratzinger Report," so the answer to these questions you're asking me are all found in these books. So by them at Ignatius press. How's that for an ad? I get a free ad, huh?
BLITZER: I think that's pretty good, Father Fessio. The whole notion, though, right now, what do you expect in the immediate days ahead from Pope Benedict XVI?
FESSIO: Well, I expect euphoria, a lot of congratulations, people calling and weeping and crying and embracing each other. But I suspect one thing he's going to do is going to begin to reform curia. Not that it needs a huge reform. But he's worked there for 24 years. I think he'll try to make the curia responsive to the needs of the people of God. Not the theologian, not the elite, not even the media, but the people of God, who long for, yearn for the fullness of truth, which John Paul II gave them in his talks, but now needs to be implemented through the bishop and through other things.
BLITZER: A simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard, that's what he called himself when he emerged on that balcony at St. Peter's Square. Father Joseph Fessio is the president of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. Father Fessio, thanks for sharing some thought on your longtime mentor and friend, Pope Benedict XVI.
Much more coverage. We're getting reaction coming in from all over the United States. We're getting reaction from all over the world. Much more reaction to the election of a new pope after this short message.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're covering reaction now to the selection of a new pope, Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope, named after only one day, 24 hours, of debate, discussion, at the conclave. It began yesterday. A little bit more than 24 hours ago. And about 2 1/2 hours or so ago, we saw smoke emerge from the chimney over the Vatican, smoke signaling there was a new pope. Initially are it was unclear whether it was white or gray or black. But it turned out to be very, very white. And within ten minute, the bells began to ring, signaling, yes there was a new pope and only shortly thereafter, he was announced, and then he made his appearance. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78 years old, from Germany.
There he is, he emerged with a smile on his face, clad in the robe, the crimson robes, of this pontiff. The 265th pontiff, taking the name Pope Benedict XVI. We're getting reaction from all over the world. No reaction yet, formal statement yet from President Bush. We got a statement from the State Department. "The United States welcomed the announcement that the Sacred College of Cardinals have selected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to succeed John Paul as the new Holy Father of the Catholic Church and we look forward to working with His Holiness and the Holy See to build upon our already excellent bilateral relationship and to promote human dignity across world." Adam Ereli, the spokesman for the State Department, making that statement. We probably will be getting a formal statement from the president of the United States fairly soon.
But reaction coming in from all over the world. We have reporters and analysts who have been assessing what's going on. Alessio Vinci's our man on the scene at St. Peter's Square. Alessio, update our viewers open what's happening now. It's about 2 1/2 hours since that smoke began to emerge.
VINCI: That is correct, Wolf. Two and a half hours ago, the announcement that Cardinal Ratzinger was made pope, and there was an incredible amount of people here, tens of thousands, entire area here inside the St. Peter's Square and the surrounding area, was totally packed with people. Many have left. Many, however, are still here in St. Peter's Square, celebrating this historic day. You can imagine how important it is for the people, whether they're tourists, pilgrims, whether they are faithful, whether they are Catholic, whether they are Jews, just to be here on this historic day because one day they will be able to say they were in Rome, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, when Pope Benedict XVI was made -- was elected the 265th pope. Among those people here in St. Peter's Square today are Alicia and Steve Shortgen. Got the name right, thank you very much, finally. First of all, what was your reaction when you heard the pope was elected?
STEVE SHORTGEN, HONEYMOONING IN ROME FROM TEXAS: We actually both cried a little bit.
STEVE SHORTGEN, HONEYMOONING IN ROME FROM TEXAS: It's an amazing, historical day. If you're Catholic, even if you're not, like you said, to see a tradition like it occur is a very special thing.
VINCI: Alicia, you are on your honeymoon, I should mention that. You married only a week ago. You came here on a honeymoon. You obviously did not plan, the honeymoon, to come to Rome and see the election of a pope. How will you remember this day?
ALICIA SHORTGEN, HONEYMOONING IN ROME FROM TEXAS: This will a joyous day, a humble day for us. It's a wonderful day for everyone who's experienced it. We made jokes before we came on our honeymoon, when we knew the pope was ill and of course had passed, that we -- that John Paul II had ruined our honeymoon that we would be sharing Rome with the ins and sort of in jest and we're so glad and so blessed to have within here on this day, to be able to see what has been going on here.
VINCI: It is a day that you'll be talking about for quite sometime. Eventually you will have children. How will you tell them about this day?
S. SHORTGEN: Well, when we heard the name, when ...
VINCI: Benedict XVI.
S. SHORTGEN: Benedict XVI. We were hoping for a maybe John or Paul or Luke so we could name our son after him. And it's a little tough, I think, for an American boy to be called Benedictus. But we'll think about it.
A. SHORTGEN: Certainly Benedictus Shortgen would not be so good.
S. SHORTGEN: It doesn't flow off the tongue very well.
VINCI: So how much do you know -- you're from Texas first of all, right?
S. SHORTGEN: Yes.
VINCI: How much did you know about this Cardinal Ratzinger? Obviously if you read the newspaper in the last few days you must know everything about him, but before that, how much did you know about this man?
A. SHORTGEN: Honestly, not much. I -- we were familiar with him being, you know a German candidate for pope potentially. Honestly, except for the news coverage that we've seen in the last few days, we didn't know anything. Of course now there have been biographies and commentaries about him constantly and we've learned quite a bit about he and his others who were in line. But I have to say, not much, even as American Catholics.
VINCI: Steve, most of the people around the world know only one pope and that is John Paul II, the pope who just died. How well do you think this new pope will be able to follow on the steps of John Paul II and become such an accessible and popular figure as John Paul II was?
S. SHORTGEN: Well, I think he's got a great chance at it. One of the reasons why is that he was the man who was the right-hand man of Pope John Paul for all these years. And I think he has a great succession and right to carry on the theology and thinking of John Paul II in a way that is understandable and consistent and accessible to the world.
VINCI: Do you think that such a conservative person was the right man and needed for the Catholic Church today? I mean, you're both young people. You're going to have children -- I keep saying this, I hope you are planning that. But I mean, do you sense that these more traditional teachings, I mean, gay rights, abortion, contraceptives. I mean, do you think that these are things that must remain the way they are in the Catholic Church or perhaps you would hope -- or you would have hoped for a more liberal candidate to become pope, or perhaps you can hope that this Cardinal Ratzinger that is now pope will perhaps look at those issues perhaps with a different light, or maybe not? What do you think?
SHORTGEN: That's a very difficult question and it's very difficult to say. I think one thing I can say and I hope I'm representative of people of my faith is that in the Catholic faith, you look at the church and you look at the pope especially as a voice, as a voice for -- for a moral voice, but also for consistency, understanding, that things will not change, despite sort of comparative things that are going on in the world, and things that are changing around.
The Catholic Church and particularly the papal voice is one that will remain consistent and I think regardless of which side of the papal aisle you stand on, whether you are liberal or a conservative in the church, there's an understanding that that consistency is important and something that I know the new pope will bring to us.
VINCI: I think that was very well said. Congratulation to both you and thank you very much for joining us and enjoy the rest of your honeymoon.
A. SCHORTGEN: Thank you.
VINCI: All right. Okay, Wolf, here it is, a couple of young -- a young couple, just married, obviously extremely happy to see that a -- Cardinal Ratzinger, a moral theologian, somebody who is so conservative in certain Catholic stance, has been elected pope. I'm sure that in the coming days we will hear many different opinions about why Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope. Nevertheless, here in St. Peter's Square today, one has the feeling that unanimously, this was a good choice. Back to you.
BLITZER: And Alessio, congratulate the honeymooners on our behalf, as well. Alessio Vinci reporting.
Delia Gallagher and John Allen are our Vatican analyst and they've been absorbing what's happened over the past two and a half hours.
First to you, Delia. You've had some time to think about this. I know you've got a lot to share with our viewers. Give us some thoughts.
GALLAGHER: Well, my first thought is, it's interesting that you had on one of my former mentors, Father Fessio, who's on the phone with you. And of course, his former mentor being Pope Ratzinger. And so the generations continue here at the Vatican. But I think the people that Alessio was speaking to in the square sort of typify something that we might see come out of this papacy, which is a renewed sort of pride in a conservative Catholicism. Because, let's remember that there are many Americans who are conservative Catholics who like Cardinal Ratzinger and who will be very pleased at this choice.
And I think one of the things that the cardinal has said in the past is that even if Catholicism has to become a smaller group, a smaller religion, a smaller church, that might be the way of the future, if it means that it can at least be consistent and maintain its fidelity to the truth. That is one of his principal points, that, you know, he can't back down on some of the traditions of the church and the teachings of the church. And if that means that some people don't agree with it and fall away in the church and Catholicism in the future finds itself a smaller, then so be it.
So I think that's a very clear line for this papacy. There's no doubt from his teachings prior to this. It's also very interesting, Wolf, that the cardinals have made this choice. And I think we need to reflect on that a little bit in the coming days. We don't know what the votes were, but it was probably a fairly clear choice, considering how quickly the election came about.
So one can assume that Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Ratzinger now, has a very good support, and a base, and it gives us an idea of where the cardinals wanted their church to go. It's definitely a vote for continuation of John Paul II's papacy and maybe even something we hinted at before, kind of sense of -- we want to absorb the papacy of John Paul II, which, of course, also had the mark of now Pope Benedict XVI.
BLITZER: Pope Benedict XV. Delia and John, stand by for a moment. Alessio Vinci is getting some of the first headlines from newspapers in Rome. Alessio, show our viewers what they're showing on the front pages of those newspapers.
VINCI: Wolf, it is not just any newspaper, it is the official newspaper of the Vatican. The called the "Ossevatore Romano," or the "Roman Observer." As you can see hear, a giant picture of Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, "habemus papum," we have a pope. Josephum Ratzinger, which is the Latin wording for his name. Quisi nomen imposut (ph), meaning who has imposed his name as Benedict XVI. And then there's a brief article here, basically thanking the holy spirit for this choice.
Obviously, one could not expect differently from the front page of the "Ossevatore Romano," the official newspaper of the Vatican, celebrating the election of Benedict XVI, former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, as we say in our business, that's the money shot, the picture on the front page of that newspaper, the picture of the new pope, Pope Benedict XVI. I assume that picture is going be on the front pages a lot of newspapers around the world. Stand by. All of our reporters and our analysts. We'll show our viewers -- once again, open up that newspaper. Let's take look at the picture of Pope Benedict XVI on the front page. The wind is not cooperating, though, unfortunately.
Let's take another quick break. We'll continue our coverage, reaction to the election of a new pope, right after this.
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