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World Reaction to Papal Election

Well-Wishers for Benedict XVI

ROME, APRIL 24, 2005 (Zenit) - Leaders from a variety of faiths and countries issued statements on the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Here is a sample.

-- World religious leaders --

Paul Spiegel, president of the Jewish association in Germany

"I am sure that he will intensify the successful route toward understanding between Christians and Jews to the benefit of both religions."

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Nadeem Elyas, president of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany

He expressed the hope that the new Pope would continue the dialogue between Christians and Muslims. "The cardinal was always John Paul II's right hand and surely contributed much to the opening gaining this priority," the chairman said. As Germans, Muslims were doubly happy about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's election, he said.

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Lutheran World Federation

"As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to assume his high spiritual and temporal responsibilities, the Lutheran World Federation accompanies him with the prayer that he will be given the grace to continue the ministry of his predecessors in a process of steady renewal, for the benefit of the church universal, and of humanity."

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Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches

"We give thanks to our common Lord Jesus Christ for granting the Roman Catholic Church a new Bishop of Rome, known for his theological integrity and ecclesial loyalty, his evangelical simplicity and pastoral sensitivity, a successor to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XV, both known as 'Primates of peace.'

"Your election coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the great beginning of the modern ecumenical journey within the Roman Catholic Church.

"We pray to our common Lord Jesus Christ, asking that your Pontificate constitute a time for the Roman Catholic Church to apply, in a renewed commitment, the teachings and the spirit of ecumenical openness exemplified in the Second Vatican Council to the life of her faithful and of the whole Church."

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Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, of Vienna and Austria, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European institutions

"What do I, as an Orthodox bishop living and serving in Europe, expect from the new pontificate?

"First of all, that the Catholic Church continues to preserve its traditional doctrinal and moral teaching without surrendering to pressures from the 'progressive' groups that demand the ordination of women, the approval of the so-called 'same-sex marriages,' abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc. There is no doubt that Benedict XVI, who has already made his positions on these issues clear, will continue to oppose such groups, which exist both within the Catholic Church and outside it.

"Secondly, I hope that the new pontificate is marked by a breakthrough in relations between the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches, and that a meeting of the Pope of Rome with the Patriarch of Moscow does take place. This meeting must be preceded by concrete steps in the direction of a better mutual understanding, and by careful elaboration of a common position on major dividing issues.

"I hope, next, that there will be a general amelioration in the relations between the Catholic Church and the world Orthodoxy. In 2000 I represented the Moscow Patriarchate at the session of the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission, which discussed the question of Uniatism. No agreement on this issue was reached, and the discussion, which was full of frustration, disappointment and bitterness on both sides, ended without a clear decision as to whether the work of the commission would ever be resumed. I hope that under the new pontificate the commission starts again, or that a new commission for bilateral dialogue is formed in order to discuss Uniatism, primacy and other theological and ecclesiological questions which still divide our churches."

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Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia

"I hope that Your Holiness' time as Pope will see the development of friendly relations between our Churches and the fruitful dialogue between the Orthodox and the Catholics. I believe this to be one of Christendom's most crucial tasks. Our Churches, with their authority and influence, must join their efforts in preaching Christian values to the modern mankind. The secular world, losing its spiritual guidelines, finds itself in unprecedented acute need of our common testimony. I hope that Your Holiness' service will contribute to the fulfillment of this task."

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Dr. Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom

"We welcome the new Pope and wish him every success in the daunting challenges that lie ahead. As a global leader in a global age, his voice will be important in framing some of the great challenges of the 21st century."

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Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League

"We welcome the new papacy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. From the Jewish perspective, the fact that he comes from Europe is important, because he brings with him an understanding and memory of the painful history of Europe and of the 20th-century experience of European Jewry.

"Having lived through World War II, Cardinal Ratzinger has great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust. He has shown this sensitivity countless times, in meetings with Jewish leadership and in important statements condemning anti-Semitism and expressing profound sorrow for the Holocaust.

"In our years of working on improving Catholic-Jewish ties, ADL has had opportunities to work with Cardinal Ratzinger. We look forward to continuing that relationship."

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Rowan Williams, Anglican archbishop of Canterbury

"His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere. I look forward to meeting him and working together to build on the legacy of his predecessor, as we seek to promote shared understanding between our churches in the service of the Gospel and the goal of Christian unity.

"He is a theologian of great stature, who has written some profound reflections on the nature of God and the church. His choice of the name Benedict suggests that he wants to connect his vision of the Church to the monastic spirit of service and contemplation.

"He will be much in our prayers in the days and weeks ahead."

-- Civil testimonies --

Gerhard Schröder, German chancellor

"This is a great honor for Germany. I think he will be a worthy successor to Pope John Paul II. I congratulate him on behalf of the government and all Germans."

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Horst Köhler, president of Germany

"That a compatriot has become pope fills us in Germany with special pleasure and also a little pride. I'm convinced that Pope Benedict XVI will continue the late Pope John Paul II's great engagement for people's dignity and peace in the world."

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George W. Bush, president of the United States

"He's a man of great wisdom and knowledge. He's a man who serves the Lord. We remember well his sermon at the Pope's funeral in Rome, how his words touched our hearts and the hearts of millions. We join with our fellow citizens and millions around the world who pray for continued strength and wisdom as His Holiness leads the Catholic Church."

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Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations

"His Holiness brings a wealth of experience to this exalted office. The United Nations and the Holy See share a strong commitment to peace, social justice, human dignity, religious freedom and mutual respect among the world's religions."

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Jacques Chirac, president of France

"I send Pope Benedict XVI my warmest congratulations and sincere good wishes for the high mission that has just been entrusted on the head of the Catholic Church."

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Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister of Italy

"I certainly express the feelings of all Italians, and am particularly delighted, when I present Your Holiness with the warm and respectful homage of the Italian government."

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José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain

"Please receive in the name of the Spanish government and the people of Spain our warmest congratulations for your election as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church and my best wishes for the papacy which you begin today."

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Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa

"Pope Benedict XVI assumes leadership at a critical time in which the world's collective wisdom and leadership including that of the religious community is most important to face up to challenges of deepening poverty and underdevelopment afflicting many people of the world."

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Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian leader

"We congratulate His Holiness and wish him every success. We hope the strong and historic relations between Palestine and the Vatican will be as strong as ever and that the Vatican's support for a just peace in the Holy Land will continue."

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Mary McAleese, president of Ireland

"The world responded in grief and wonder to the passing of John Paul II. The election of his successor became the concern of very many people throughout the world. You embody their hopes for greater unity among peoples and a more just and caring human family. Your guidance and leadership amid the complexities of modern life will be crucial."

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Jan Peter Balkenende, prime minister of the Netherlands

"I hope this pope will continue on the same path as John Paul II, that he seeks dialogue with others, will fight for peace and democracy and against poverty."

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Jose Socrates, prime minister of Portugal

"I express my sincere happiness to the Catholic Church for the choice of the new pope." Socrates said he hopes "the Pope continues with the ecumenical spirit" of his predecessor, considering "the dialogue between important religions for world peace."

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Tony Blair, prime minister of the United Kingdom

"I offer Your Holiness, on the assumption of your high office, congratulations and my very best wishes for the success of your pontificate. I look forward to continuing our cooperation with the Holy See on issues of international importance such as Africa and development."

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Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan

"I hope the Pope will help to bring harmony between the two worlds [Islam and Christianity].

"The Pope can bring harmony to the way people think and perhaps create a better environment to solve disputes between peoples."

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Vladimir Putin, president of Russia

"Russia is committed to continuing its constructive political dialogue and interaction with the Holy See in the interest of solving global problems, strengthening the values of goodness, justice and humanism."

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Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil

The president of Brazil, the world's country with the biggest number of Catholics, voiced hope the new pontiff would promote "peace and social justice at the same time as reviving the spiritual and moral values of the Church."

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Vicente Fox, president of Mexico

"I tell him that we are on his side, that we want to build and keep growing this magnificent, extraordinary relationship that has been built between our country and the Vatican."

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