We have a new Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, elected as the 265th pope of the Catholic Church. He will now be known as Benedict the XVI. This conclave that first had two failed votes marked by black smoke. Conclave is a latin word meaning “with key.” A neat thing about this too is that Clave is not key in Spanish, but password.
Now my first question was, why does the Pope get a new name? Here is the answer. After the new Pope is electe he is then asked by what name he wants to be called. The first pope to change his name was John II in 533. His given name, Mercury, was considered inappropriate since it was the name of a pagan god. Another pope in 983 took the name John XIV because his given name was Peter. Reverence for the first pope precluded his becoming Peter II. At the end of the first millennium a couple of non-Italian popes changed their names to ones that their people could more easily pronounce. The custom of changing one’s name became common around the year 1009. The last pope to keep his own name was Marcellus II, elected in 1555.
This Pope from Germany worked closely with John Paul II as a cardinal and in many issues played the bad cop, good cop routine. His first mass this morning however seemed a lot more scaled back and he seems to have taken a softer position on many issues. From his age I see this Pope as a transitional Pope, but who knows, he might be with us for many years to come. The election of this new Pope, in my eyes, has fueled a Catholic comeback in many ways. I think that people coming back to Faith is an important thing. I do pray to God that he leads this man to do great work and to continue the wonderful legacy of John Paul II.