The college of Cardinals selected a consummate insider yesterday, naming Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany as holy father of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics. The election of Benedict XVI signalled little change in direction, at least in the near term. Ratzinger is a guardian of traditional doctrine. As dean of the College of Cardinals, he set the tone with an indictment of modernity just prior to the voting.

A common ethical groundwork should be possible among people of different religions. But the election of Pope Benedict XVI raises concerns among Protestants who felt slighted by Ratzinger during their attempts at ecumenical dialogue. The National Catho-lic Reporter notes that Ratzinger has discouraged the presence of Islam in Europe. He has been quoted as saying it would be “a grave error” to admit Turkey, a largely Muslim nation, to the EU. He also discouraged Asian priests from examining non-Christian religions for commonalities.

No one expected the Cardinals to ruminate on priestly celibacy or women priests when choosing a pope. But US Catholics will continue to ponder such topics and connect them to priest shortages. John Paul II shared his successor’s conservative views but connected people on a personal level. Respecters of religion are hoping that the reign of Benedict XVI will be known for similar beneficence. — The Boston Globe