The conclave lasted exactly 24 hours. It was a real spiritual experience of communion in an environment full of prayers and peace. It was not a political contract or a plebiscite, but a sort of gentle evidence. For all cardinals, the preceding debates allowed them to express all difficulties and problems.
Benedict XVI shares completely John Paul II’s legacy, but at the same time, it is quite obvious his personality and style are very different. Benedict XVI is the last great theologian that participated as an expert and not as a bishop as John Paul II did during the Second Vatican Council. He is a great thinker. Like John Paul II, Benedict XVI knew what war was like. He lived his youth in the Nazi Germany, whose damage he felt while still a young boy. The Catholic environment in which he was educated was not indulgent about the topic. He knows the cost inflicted by totalitarianism on mankind and Church. He also has a vast aesthetical culture and feels a true friendship for France.
John Paul II gave him a difficult mission for he was the prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith. He was not asked to be famous or involved in public relations but to define what belongs to catholic faith or not. He did it with honesty and precision. That increased prejudices which must be assessed again to find out who he really is. In fact, he is a very gentle man.
Benedict XVI’s ecumenical will is strong and pure. But practicing ecumenicalism requires the will of many. The true problem of contemporary ecumenicalism is that there could only be Christian unity within the true communion of the framework of faith. What should we believe in to identify ourselves as Christians? That is the main problem, but this is not a problem for the orthodox churches and we find a communion of faith with the churches of the new evangelical movements. Cardinal Ratzinger has fought for the recognition of Europe’s Christian roots. This is true but it is not our truth. The truth is the following: you can not think of the future without being aware of a common past. Regarding the links with the Islam, the problem has nothing to do only with Benedict XVI but with the group of nations marked by Islam as well as with other nations, with other cultures, for nowadays there is a real world problem on this issue. The Church could be a mediator but, once again, there can not be a unilateral progress in comprehension and dialogue. The Islam and the other cultures must make their own efforts. Benedict XVI is very aware of this and he is sensitive to the relations with Judaism.
The election of a German person is a true guarantee to reconciliation. Accusing him of having been a member of the Hitlerjugend is a real sacrilege. I don’t know if he was a member or not and probably all German youths have been there too. But he didn’t tolerate any of that. The name of Benedict is a guarantee to reconciliation. He has also told us about Europe by reminding us that Benedict is also Saint Benedict, one of the great patron saints of Europe, whose rule served as a reference to create all Europe based on monarchism as a civilization element.

Le Figaro (France)
Circulation: 350 000 copies. Property of Socpresse (founded by Robert Hersant, it is owned today by planes manufacturer Serge Dassault). This is the reference journal of the French right.

«Benoît XVI a une amitié de coeur pour la France et la culture française», by Jean-Marie Lustiger, Le Figaro, April 21, 2005.