Anniversary of Election of Benedict XVI

It is sometimes possible to remember precisely where you were and what you were doing when historic events took place. People often cite examples like where they were when they heard that JFK was shot, or when Neil Armstrong stepped off the LEM and onto the surface of the Moon.

Where were you and what were you doing when you heard that Joseph Card. Ratzinger had been elected Pope?

Here is a shot of what I was doing. (Many thanks to the person who sent me the video tape I took this photo from.)

Chris Wallace, Greg Burke, Fr. Zuhlsdorf

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. SM says:

    Benedict XVI can not even mandate to put the altar rails back into churches to let people kneel and receive communion on the tongue without having to say Amen before putting the tongue out.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Pope Benedict XVI anyway..

  2. TNCath says:

    I was in class with a group of high school seniors. When news of “white smoke” made it down the hallway of our school (a public school), we closed our books and turned on the television to watch. My students were spellbound, and I just couldn’t believe Cardinal Ratzinger had actually been elected. Other teachers down the hall (most of whom were non-Catholics) had their televisions on as well. It was not only a wonderful moment for my Catholic students but a magnificent teaching tool for the non-Catholics.

  3. Dob says:

    I was sitting in front of the TV with baited breath. When it was announced I was really disappointed having ignorantly swallowed so many of the negative things people said of him for so long. I thought I had better read some of his books. When I did my views completely changed. My faith deepened and I can’t say how much I love this man. He is a man of great wisdom and faith and has been such a blessing to our family. God Bless Pope Benedict XVI.

  4. C.M. says:

    without having to say Amen before

    Has anyone else been denied Holy Communion for this? Father, can you start a separate thread or refer us to one already established?

    I was at work when I heard the news. Thank God for streaming Internet video!

  5. I was two feet in front of the TV and was on the phone with a friend of mine in Wisconsin. I’d been glued there for quite a while. Being women, we both screamed and cried at the announcement. What a joyful day.

    I’d prayed that the good Cardinal would be elected
    How good the Lord is to us.

  6. Trad Tom says:

    SM: Huh? What are you talking about? The question deals with where you were and what you were doing when you heard the Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected Pope. The birthday wishes are nice, I suppose, albeit a few days late. Focus!

  7. Habemus Papam says:

    A phone call from a friend told me a new Pope had been elected. “Ratzinger” (reaction: Shocked surprise), “Benedict XVI” (reaction: Thank God. The end of the post Vatican II era. This one will realign the Church).

  8. Francis Brennan says:

    Fr. Z,

    I remember it well. I had just got back from a trip to the UK and was standing outside Toronto airport waiting for my wife to pick me up. My mother rang me on my cellphone – “It’s Ratzinger!” I recall feeling excited but somewhat apprehensive, given that it was — at the time — a “controversial appointment” and I anticipated a lot of media hostility and opposition from within the Church.

  9. RJackson says:

    Clapping during the liturgy is obnoxious but I can’t help but be moved by it here regardless.

  10. Geoffrey says:

    I was working at a veterinary hospital at the time. I kept checking online to see the headlines. I became extremely nervous when I saw the headline “white smoke appears”. I hadn’t expected it to appear so soon.

    I was very nervous. I called my mother (who had no media access at her work) to let her know the white smoke had appeared. She was nervous too. We feared a “left-leaning” cardinal was elected!

    I didn’t care what my coworkers would say. I watched the live feed from MSNBC online. After all, the last time this happened, I wasn’t even born!

    I got chills when Cardinal Estevez appeared. A non-Catholic coworker even joined me to watch. When the name “Iosephum” was said, I waited, not thinking much of it. I didn’t know the first names of all the cardinals. Then when I heard “Ratzinger” I slapped my knee so hard and said something in excitement. I called my mother (still at work) and told her. She was ecstatic as well. I was on such a high all day! Still am!

    Viva il Papa!

  11. surge says:

    Standing on a chair in the Piazza

  12. Mark M says:

    I remember I was on duty in the Force Communications Centre. I had just taken a break and was watching the Conclave on the bigscreen. I was confused what the implications would be when I heard it was Cardinal Ratzinger (I was still an Anglican then), but he seemed to be someone I could warm to. Now I’m very much a fan… :D

  13. Kradcliffe says:

    I was a temp worker at the time, so I had that day off. I had EWTN on all day long. At the time the white smoke appeared, I was in some online chat with some guy from Catholic Match… not the man I ultimately married. lol.

  14. Thomas says:

    That day I took a drive over to Boston College to drop off a student loan payment. On my way back I was listening to Boston sports radio and one of the hosts said that there was smoke in St. Peter’s Square and it looked white. I floored it to get back home. I got home so quickly that the bell’s of St. Peter’s hadn’t begun to ring in confirmation yet, so I went upstairs for a shave.

    Bad move.

    Not even halfway finished, the bells began to chime. Nicked up and hastily washed of the shaving foam, I flew downstairs to the television. I would have watched on EWTN with Arroyo and Fr. Richard, but I realized their feed was slightly delayed compared to the other stations, and being borderline OCD about that kind of thing I watched on Fox News. Sorry, Fr. Z., but I don’t remember seeing you. Probably too euphoric.

    After the death of the Holy Father I had my “candidates” that I was hoping for: Ratzinger, Arinze, Pell, etc.

    But an amazing feeling came over me as we awaited Cardinal Medina Estevez. Total confidence. And I don’t mean total confidence that one of “my guys” was the new pope, but total confidence that this was in the hands of the Holy Spirit and there was no need to worry about what was about to happen. Christ keeps His promises and is Church can never be destroyed.

    Meanwhile the sound of the bells and the sight of the crying faces in the square were getting to me. I got a bit misty-eyed at times. Complete joy. You’ll remember how as we waited the windows of the loggia were closed with a curtain drawn behind them. The moment those curtans fluttered and began to open I was giddy. I wasn’t familiar with the exact formula of announcing the new pope, so when the Cardinal said “Iosephum” I heard it but didn’t make the final connection. But when he said “Cardinalem… Ratzinger!” I was jumping up and down with my fists raised in triumph.

    I’m a huge Boston sports fan, and I’ve had plenty to cheer about in the past several years, but the excitement was always preceded by nervousness, angst, and worry. This was something different, this was a joyful hope followed by perfect fulfillment. It was the greatest thing I have yet experienced in my relatively young life.

  15. PB says:

    I was unemployed at the time. I said my morning prayers, and just had a feeling that I would hear two pieces of good news that day. So, hopefully, I went out to the store to get some things. When I returned, I got online to watch EWTN. I tuned in just in time to see Cardinal Estevez announce our new Holy Father. That was the first piece of good news! Minutes later, I received a phone call offering me a temporary job. That was the second piece of good news! Deo Gratias!

  16. Ståle Wilhelmsen, Oslo says:

    I was in the centre of Oslo, on my way to an evening Italian course, when I got a message on my cellphone from a friend about the election. I remember being thrilled. The Italian teacher spoke about the election as well, as a Italian Culture update.

  17. JaneC says:

    I was at home, sleeping in because I didn’t have any morning classes. I woke up and thought I had better go to the living room and turn on the television because something might have happened. Just moments after I turned on the television, the announcement was made. I literally jumped for joy, then got dressed and headed to campus to find someone to share the joy with.
    Almost everyone was in class, but a friend was in the campus ministry office. I made a noise like “squee!” when I saw her, but she cautioned me to hush, because Sister had locked herself in her office when she heard the news and appeared not to be too happy about it. My friend asked me if I noticed on my way over whether the Religious Studies building was still standing or whether it had spontaneously combusted. Not everyone at school was as pleased as we were.

  18. Winfield says:

    I was live blogging a conference on Social Security reform (!) from the Heritage Foundation in Washington. A journalist seated next to me nudged me, pointed to his laptop–where he’d been following developments in Rome–and said, “It’s Ratzinger!” and gave a thumbs-up. We were elated.

  19. Bernadette says:

    I was at work, coming back from the cafeteria with my tray, and my co-workers, none who are Catholic told me to hurry in to watch the TV, that it was just announced that the Pope had been chosen. A let out a loud cheer when Joseph Ratzinger(Pope Benedict XVI) walked out onto the balcony. My friends came running in to see what I was cheering about.

  20. We were on a jittery white-smoke alert from the first minute of the conclave. Cacciaguida and Cacciadelia were visiting the grandparents at the time, and I guess the rest of the boys were at work. As soon as fumo bianco was sighted, Greg (Son #4) and I tried to keep busy but never got out of earshot of the television. We joined in the expectant gasp when the cardinal announcing the new pope said “Iosepham . . .” and just screamed and jumped up and down when he continued, “Cardinale Ratzingeri.” I yanked down the black bow from the front door, and we hurried off to Mass to hear the pastor pray for “Benedict, our Pope,” for the first time. That was a happy, happy day.

  21. Vincent S says:

    I was on my way to the 12:10 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC when a priest told me there had been white smoke. A very large group crowded around the television by the gift shop (so much so that ushers had to move people in order to allow others to pass by) where we waited for the announcement. I remember very clearly the moment “Ratzinger” was announced – the group exploded with cheers. There was so much joy at that moment, truly unforgettable.

  22. Daniel Weller says:

    I was in 8th grade, in Mr. Brandenburg’s class. He was my social studies teacher. We were all doing class work, or something insignificant, and I think he just looked up from his computer, and said “for those of you who would be interested in knowing, a new pope has been elected.” I asked him who it was, and he said “Joseph Ratzinger.” He may or may not have pronounced the name correctly :-p
    God bless Benedict, and may he live to be a hundred!

  23. Calleva says:

    I was in my kitchen and there were various members of the family around. I hadn’t kept the TV on as I thought there would be no announcement for at least another day. I switched on the TV at news time and the announcer said that there was a new Pope. My heart stopped. I thought ‘It can’t be Ratzinger, life doesn’t get that good’.

    It was Ratzinger. I jumped in the air and spun round in a victory jig. I slapped my hand over my mouth to drown out the scream of pure joy. My son, 23, stared at me in horror. I just choked with emotion and relief “I’ve been a fan of his for over twenty years!”

    My Dad rang a few minutes later, he sounded pleased as well. I remember thinking that the total joy I felt was comparable to any joyful experience in my life. I was high for several days afterwards. I’d been very haphazard in my practise of the faith for sometime, but I knew with my favourite cardinal in the top job, I couldn’t stay away any longer, and I went to Confession for the first time in a long time. I wouldn’t attribute all this to ‘election fever’ but to the many graces pouring from heaven through John Paul II. We have so much to be grateful for in these times.

  24. sacredosinaeternum says:

    I was in St. Peter’s Square, not really waiting for the Pope to be elected so soon, but happy to be there skipping class at the University nonetheless!! With fellow seminarians/deacons, I was overjoyed beyond the ability to express it that RA-TZ-IN-GER was elected. After celebrating for quite some time in the square, we took it back to the seminary. The overabundant joy and rejoicing filled the Seminary among the young seminarians, the likes of which the 70’s and 80’s trained faculty had never seen and didn’t quite know what to make of it. A day to never be forgotten, for sure. Deo gratias!

  25. sigil7 says:

    I was in seminary in a city which the Holy Father is visiting this trip. We had someone stationed in the sacristy with a radio nearby during Mass just in case the name of the new pope was announced before the Canon.

    As soon as the Mass ended, everyone ran to the refectory just in time for the announcement. And when Ratzinger\’s name was announced, I felt this thrill run through me. There was sorrow among two of the nuns there because they thought \”the next pope\” would change course and \”ordain\” them, but the finality of the fact that that day wasn\’t coming made them mope around for quite a few days afterwards.

  26. Lori says:

    I was laid up with a broken tibia, hip and rib from a car accident on March 6. So I had been pretty emotional the whole time through the death and funeral of JPII. But I was very happy that I was able to see the whole process of the interregnum and election, even if I couldn’t dance or jump for joy, like some other posters. It’s ironic though, I was lamenting that I would have to work this week and miss the Holy Father coming to the U.S. Then last Friday, I had a fall and tore a ligament in my wrist and I’m home off work again! Typing one-handed, no less.;)

  27. Father Totton says:

    In the spring of my first year as a priest, I gathered with our parish staff in the living room of the building where our offices were (it had not been used as a rectory for several years). We tuned in (I think the local ABC affiliate was the only one that came in clear enough) to catch Fr. McBrien speaking about how interesting it will be to see what name is chosen. Father mentioned “Benedict” as one he wouldn’t mind seeing – oddly enough. I was watching my watch because I had the noon Mass that day and it was pushing on toward the top of the hour as we waited for the news. When Cardinal Estevez said “Iosephum…” I jumped up and burst out, with great joy, “it’s Ratzinger” One woman walked out of the room (very disappointed) the remainder of the staff seemed indifferent, though they were perhaps a bit in shock. I left as soon as I heard the name he had chosen – I had to get ready for Mass – and I announced it to my small congregation before I began the Mass.

  28. Frank says:

    I was at home alone, watching the events live on television. It was thrilling to see the white smoke, and I was very happy and excited to hear that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected! Unfortunately, my memories of that moment are somewhat marred. An classmate from university, who enjoyed goading me with various anti-Catholic sentiments (e.g. suggesting Pope John Paul II, in his age and illness no less, should be arrested and tried by the World Court on account of the abuse scandals), immediately messaged me, repeating the smears then common in the media and calling the Holy Father a Nazi. In the past I had attempted to ignore his stupidities, but that must have been ‘a comment too far’, since, to my shame, I responded in a most uncharitable (though admittedly highly satisfying) manner by suggesting to him in some detail what he could go and do. I did immediately apologize, though my reaction must have had some effect on him since afterwards he was much better about refraining from his taunts!

    My girlfriend and I then went to the noon Mass at the Cathedral here in Vancouver in thanksgiving, and I have been giving thanks ever since that we have such a wonderful Pope!

  29. Christa says:

    I had been listening to the commentary on the networks about how “the Church needed a new direction” blah, blah, blah. I had watched intently, and was standing in my family room watching when they announced Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope. I was quite happy to hear the “experts” proven wrong, and when he appeared I was struck at how he radiated the love of Christ.

    The following Easter I became a Roman Catholic, so Pope Benedict holds a special place in my heart.

  30. Rob says:

    I was a slacker college student and had stayed up most of the night talking–I woke up late, and had no clue what was going on. It was a Catholic school though, so I was quickly brought up to speed.

  31. Marty says:

    I was in bed!! The white smoke appeared at about 3am and my mum who was watching it rang me and said ‘white smoke’ and hung up…not a way to wake up and it took me about 5 mins to realise what she had said. I knew it was going to Cardinal Ratzinger and let out a cheer when I heard his name. George Pell was paying good odds at the time but I didn’t bite

  32. Sue Sims says:

    I’d just got back from school, around 4.30, and turned on the television just before the white smoke was spotted. Then I was glued to the screen as Cardinal Estevez announced with incredible lentitude (is that a word?) ‘…Eminentissimum…Cardinalem…Josephum…’at which point I shrieked so loudly that my husband came running to see whether I’d had a terrible accident. He realised fairly quickly that things were fine when he saw me dancing round the room chanting ‘Ratzinger! Yay! Ratzinger!’ It had been predicted by Piers Paul Read in the Spectator some months earlier, but I’d thought it was just a lovely dream.

  33. Zach says:

    I was listening to President Bush give a speech for the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, IL.


  34. Peg says:

    We had the TV on EWTN, when we heard about the white smoke. It was so neat to see people come running down the streets of Rome to St. Peters. One man still had his chefs hat on. The bells were ringing, it was all very exciting. We thought Card. Ratzinger might be elected but had mixed feelings about what kind of Pontiff he would make. I must say we are very pleased.
    Even my son’s atheist girlfriend who happened to stop in was glued to the TV.

  35. Brad Harvey says:

    When Benedict XVI`s election was announced, the first thing I felt was an enormous sense of peace. For a few moments all was right with the world. Then I covered the two blocks to my parish in about a minute and found Father out on the rectory lawn grinning from ear to ear. We shared the good news, joked about how many pant-suit wearing, liberal, feminist “nuns” were in a tailspin at that moment, and then we headed up to ring the bells.
    Talk about a good day!

  36. RBrown says:

    Not really expecting anything to happen, I was getting ready to go play tennis and turned on the TV. When mention was made that the session was going much longer than usual, with no smoke, I realized that the die likely had been cast.

    I never really thought that Cardinal Ratzinger could be elected, but I knew that no one would be elected without his stamp of approval. I thought Cardinal Bertone would succeed JPII.

    When the name “Iosephum” was read, Glemp was the name that came to mind. Then with the name “Ratzinger” I was stunned.

    What followed was Old Home Week. It seemed every channel had another old friend from Rome–not only Fr Z, but also Fr Gerry Murray and Pia de Solenni. Then Fox interviewed old friends from KU who were in the Piazza–Bp Paul Coakley and Msgr (now bishop elect) Jim Conley.

  37. Ryan says:

    I was in my grad student office doing homework before a class. I checked right before class and didn’t see anything. I knew that during class they would send up the smoke, so I was praying on the way to class and during class that they would elect somebody. I was quite distracted during class. After class I rushed back to my office to see if anything happened. Foxnews had the bells news on the front page. Praise God they hadn’t announced who it was yet. I turned on EWTN online and was very, very nervous, not sure who it would be. It seemed like it took an hour for them to finally come out. When I heard Cardinal Medina-Estevez say “Ratzinger” I involuntarily did a fist-pump and jumped up from my chair with a big “YES!” It was pure emotion, I was so excited! I watched for an hour or so and then went to the chapel to do a holy hour in thanksgiving. There were many Catholics who were around the building talking on their phones expressing their excitement about the new Pope Benedict. I was so happy that the future of the Church was in the hands of such a great man.

  38. Cathomommy says:

    I was sitting on the hassock in our living room, holding our sleeping one and a half year old. My husband was home too, sitting behind me on the couch, because he had just been let go from his job. When the Cardinal announced…”Iosephum…Ratzinger!” We both jumped up and I almost dropped the baby! “It’s Ratzinger!!” my husband shouted, and I’ll never forget the look of joy on his face at that moment.

  39. Louis E. says:

    This seems the best thread here to note the death yesterday evening of Cardinal Lopez Trujillo (who would have presided over the next conclave,as senior cardinal bishop under 80,if the Pope died before November 2015).

    Now Cardinal Re (who turns 80 in January 2014) would preside,while the Pope will name a new Cardinal Bishop of Frascati.(Cardinals Sodano,Gantin,and Etchegaray,the Dean,Dean Emeritus,and Sub-Dean,are already over 80…Sodano would preside over the General Congregations of the sede vacante).Cardinal Arinze is older than Cardinal Re and junior as a Cardinal Bishop.

    I am not trying to imply the Pope would die soon but noting that the new appointment to Frascati could be the man who would preside at the conclave.I don’t know who might be appointed to replace Cardinal Lopez Trujillo at the Pontifical Council for the Family (which he had headed since 1990,having been the world’s youngest cardinal when he got the red hat in 1983 as Archbishop of Medellin).

  40. Louis E. says:

    My bet is on Bertone to get Frascati,as a Secretary of State is almost always made a Cardinal Bishop…he would thus preside over a conclave held between January and December 2014 (Cardinal Lopez Trujillo was younger).

  41. Lauren P. says:

    I was in charge of the music for our 12:05 Mass on campus, and had been warming up with the cantor. There was a buzz in the halls just before Mass that white smoke had been sighted. The priest made sure it was a short Mass, and after it was over we all ran to the student lounge next door just in time for the announcement! There was much hugging and crying and shouting in joy!

  42. Jim of Maryland says:

    Funny. I definitely remember where I was when I heard JFK had been shot, but at no other historical event in my life except for the election of Joseph Ratzinger. I will never forget that moment. I had been praying for it since even before the death of JPII.

  43. Jim of Maryland says:

    Father, is there any link to the Fox News coverage that day? I would love to relive that moment with your commentary. I was watching ETWN that day.

  44. RBrown says:

    When JPI was elected, I did not own a TV. Having heard that a pope had been chosen, I went to a store that sold TV’s. As I’m trying to see what’s happening, some poor salesman kept trying to sell me a TV.

  45. I was at the computer lab. at University, following Fox News site reloading it despairly and talking via instant messenger to a friend who didn’t like Ratzinger a single bit. I received the news “cum gaudium magno”

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