German Cardinal JOSEPH RATZINGER has been named the new Pope.

Ratzinger, who turned 78 on Saturday (16APR05) and delivered the homily at POPE JOHN PAUL II's funeral earlier this month (APR05), has been the Vatican's chief overseer of doctrine since 1981. He will be known as POPE BENEDICT XVI.

Greeting the masses in Vatican City's St Peter's Square after the announcement today (19APR05), the new Pope raised his hands, clasped them together, and said, "Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple humble worker in the field of the Lord... Above all, I put myself in the hands of your prayers."

He then led a benediction.

White smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel chimney and bells rang out shortly after 6pm - signifying that the 115 cardinals sequestered inside a high-security Vatican hotel had elected the new Pope.

Ratzinger will be the church's 265th pontiff and plans to build upon the legacy of the late John Paul II, who died on 2 April (05) at the age of 84.

19/04/2005 21:53