U.S. Bishops look hopefully to Pope Benedict XVI

.- As Pope Benedict XVI begins to take his place as spiritual shepherd of over 1 billion Catholics, bishops across the U.S. are expressing hope and joy at the election of the German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, TX, sees the new Pope as a man of “great wisdom and humility.”

Archbishop Gomez noted that “in his homily at the Mass for the beginning of the conclave, [Cardinal Ratzinger] gives us a glimpse of himself as a pope who continues to challenge us as followers of Jesus,” calling the faithful to “the maturity of Christ.”

He noted that, “The new pope is a holy man who worked closely with John Paul II for so many years” and expressed confidence that Benedict would “continue in a spirit of faith and unity, bringing us together to face the needs of the Church and the world with courage and love.”

Archbishop Alex J. Brunett of Seattle joyfully accepted the news of the new pope on Tuesday, saying: “We are delighted that the cardinal electors chose a man of great knowledge and vast experience in the Holy See. Pope Benedict is known as a holy and humble man who is an articulate communicator as well as a good listener.”

Noting the new pope’s close collaboration with John Paul II, Archbishop Brunett said that, “Pope Benedict the XVI has demonstrated a clear understanding of our continuing need for deeper conversion, and we pray that his guidance will teach all of us to live more fully our Catholic faith.”

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was part of the electing conclave, said from Rome that, "With Catholics throughout the world, we rejoice at the election of Pope Benedict XVI.”

“What an enormous privilege it was to be a part of his election,” he said, “I was privileged to be able to greet an old friend as our new Holy Father.”

The cardinal noted that "We can thank God for a brilliant theologian and a man who not only understands the theology of the Church, but lives and loves it, and will be a sure and faithful guide and shepherd for us all in the years ahead.”

Added Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Diocese of Fargo at a Mass Tuesday night: God continues to watch over us, his people. He never abandons us. As we transition as a Church from one Pope to the next Pope to the next Pope, we always know we stand on the same rock of faith, and that is Jesus Christ.”

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