VATICAN CITY - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected Tuesday by his peers to lead the Roman Catholic Church after the death of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican announced.
Bells ringing from the Vatican earlier confirmed that cardinals had reached a decision and that, along with white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney, caused crowds in St. Peter's Square to chant, â€œViva il Papa!â€ or â€œLong live the pope!â€
The square quickly filled up as thousands of people began streaming in as word of the decision spread.
The new pope was to appear shortly on the main balcony overlooking the square to deliver his first public address.
The conclave of 115 cardinals lasted for two days, and no conclave in the past century had lasted more than five days. The election that made John Paul II pope in October 1978 took eight ballots over three days.
Yeah, that was pretty exciting, we were watching it on TV this afternoon at work in my boss's office.(Luckily, the phones were pretty quite at that time, ..He gets to have a TV in his office !!! He & his girlfriend are leaving for Italy on Saturday for a weeks' vacation - Tough life, huh !!
But in 1943, he was drafted as an assistant to a Nazi anti-aircraft unit in Munich. Later, he was shipped off to build tank barriers at the Austian-Hungarian border. He wrote that he escaped recruitment by the dreaded SS because he and others said they were training to be priests.
â€œWe were sent out with mockery and verbal abuse,â€ he wrote. â€œBut these insults tasted wonderful because they freed us from the threat of that deceitful â€˜voluntary serviceâ€™ and all its consequences.â€