"Like everyone else, I was surprised at the speed with which the Conclave reached a decision. The choice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope also surprised me. I had thought that at 78 years of age, he was too old. Then my mind went back to 1958, when I was 20 years of age and a student for the priesthood. I remember how disappointed I was by the election of Pope John XXIII. He was already in his 78th year, and appeared to have been chosen as a stop-gap Pope. He indeed had a short Pontificate - just five years, but it was a very significant five years. He was after all the instigator of the Second Vatican Council.
Cardinal Ratzinger was already a cardinal before the election of John Paul I. As a respected theologian, he had had a great influence in the formulation of some of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council. As Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger may surprise his critics. His choice of the name Benedict in itself could prove to be significant. Saint Benedict is the Patron Saint of Europe. He was the father of monasticism in the west. The new Pope may well be signalling his intention of re-vitalising Christianity in Western Europe. Time will tell."
Rt. Rev. John Cunningham
Bishop of Galloway