The election of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger as Pope was John Paul II’s last gift to the Roman Catholic Church. No cardinal was closer to John Paul II and in his sermon he praised a brilliant tribute to the memory of the deceased pope. However, his election has caused reactions in Europe and the United States, which describe him as an authoritarian man, a conservative, and even a “neoconservative.” But this is a misreading that shows his critics haven’t read his sermons. The new pope is not like the old one. He is a much shyer and quieter man. He has more radical ideas than John Paul II on the reforms of the Church and he is more serious about the life of the soul. He wants a serious Church and wants it to expand itself.
He is open to the world and the Protestant and Jewish leaders he has talked to praise him for that. His true nature is the very opposite of what his critics have invented. Ratzinger considers that Churches which chose “modernity” at the expense of the word of Christ have lost their faithful, whereas Churches which remained serious, such as the Churches of Africa and Asia, have grown.
His conception of liberty has been usually misunderstood. He is a strong enemy of socialism, state control and authoritarianism. However, he worries about the democracy and the threat of the “tyranny of the majority”, just like James Madison did. He also fears subjectivism growth in Europe for he believes that’s how Nazism and Leninism arose. The central actions of Benedict XVI will be to take culture as the central element of the new millennium and wonder what culture can protect the best free societies form their internal dangers.

International Herald Tribune (France)
The International Herald Tribune is a version of the New York Times adapted for the European public. It works in direct association with Haaretz (Israel), Kathimerini (Greece), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), JoongAng Daily (South Korea), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), The Daily Star (Lebanon) and El País (Spain). It also works, through its head office, in indirect association with Le Monde (France).
New York Times (United States)

«Rome’s Radical Conservative», by Michael Novak, New York Times, April 20, 2005.
«Rome’s radical conservative will surprise», by Michael Novak, International Herald Tribune.