This article appears in the May 2005 edition of the Catholic Medical Quarterly
Welcome to Benedict XVI
The brevity of the Conclave made it clear, beyond the new Pope's obvious authority at his celebration of Mass and sermon at Pope John Paul's funeral, how outstanding he appeared to his fellow-cardinals, albeit 78 and physically frail.
His fellow-Cardinals recollected, obviously, that, although he stood out for the fundamentals of our Faith as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for its Doctrine, he had been one of the prime authors of Vatican 2 and the chief Catholic architect of the ground-breaking consensus with Lutheranism on the issue of Justification, whether by Faith alone or by Faith and Works.
His reputation is of high intellectual capacity combined with personal kindness and humility. He was a close friend and adviser of Pope John Paul, including in the preparation of many of the late Pope's writings
After having apparently prayed in the Conclave that it would allow him his intended retirement to his brother's home and to his books, on coming out as Pope onto the balcony he looked transfigured, as if he knew his call was from the Holy Spirit to whom he pledged himself when he spoke. By his assumption of the name of a previous Pope of peace and reconciliation, he has patently set his mission in these directions, without compromising the unshrinking firmness of his Catholicism: he will undoubtedly be a powerful and idiosyncratic leader of the Church.
We commend him to the prayers he has sought so whole-heartedly.