I was shocked by the speed of the vote, which means there was no real debate. I would have thought the spectrum of opinions was wider but the fact that such a decision was taken in less than a day is significant. It seems they went for continuity. The group that favored alternatives was not well organized and therefore everybody accepted the conclusion. The media had already presented Ratzinger as the favorite; it was known he had most of the votes even when it is forbidden (for the participants in the conclave) to reveal their intentions. Now we’ll know if he remains loyal to the positions he had before the conclave. He will have to keep his predecessor’s style; I don’t think he would do anything different.
We have to ensure the debates within the Church take place, a more sharp debate if such a thing is possible. Continuity is evident as well as the will to limit the influence of the spirit of this time. I hope the new pope will clearly state his intentions, be transparent and allow the necessary openness to discuss certain problems and try, perhaps, new solutions. Topics such as marriage between ecclesiastics, women in Church and the relation with other religions must be addressed by the Church.

Der Standard (Austria)

«Was kommt mit Benedikt XVI?», by Helmut Schuller, Der Standard, April 21, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.