Since the start of the conclave, 15 days after the death of John Paul II, there was much speculation about who would take the reins of the Catholic Church. Among the leading contenders were Joseph Ratzinger and Argentine Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio.
Cardinals chose Joseph Ratzinger, the right hand man for John Paul II, and who many considered the best candidate to continue his legacy.
Some of the thinking was that after the long and intense pontificate of John Paul II, the Church needed a Pope to help process and assimilate the inheritance left by him.
“I have before me, in particular, the testimony of Pope John Paul II. He leaves behind a Church more courageous, more free, and younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future.”
Benedict XVI said he was taken aback by his election and said he was not worthy to become the Successor of Peter. During his first few speeches, he world often recall John Paul II, thank him for his task, and highlight the importance he placed on inter-religious dialogue.
“My true plan to govern is not to do as I please, nor to follow my own ideas, but to open myself, and the Church, to the word and will of the Lord and let Him guide me, in such a way that He will be the one leading the Church in this time in our history.”
Those words reassured the Cardinals that they had chosen the right person to lead the Church during a time of crisis.