6 years ago… where were you?

Six years ago today, Joseph Card. Ratzinger was elected as Bishop of Rome and he took the name Benedict, sixteenth of that name.

Where were you? What were your thoughts at the time?

I was in Rome on an uncomfortable chair with an earpiece in my ear and extremely bright lights in my eyes in front of cameras for Fox News, covering the election with Chris Wallace and Greg Burke.

When the Cardinal Deacon said “Josephum”, I almost wrenched Greg Burke’s arm out of its socket.

Here is a photo of the TV screen someone shot and sent me at the time… it is really unflattering (my hairline is receding, but hasn’t been quite that routed yet… not that that matters much), but… well… it’s what I have and the smile was real.


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  1. Lucas says:

    At work. We had a TV set up and customers and employees crowded around when the announcement was made. Most people were excited, but a few were not to say the least.

    I hate to say it, but the first thing I did after hearing Ratzinger was running to the office and calling Ignatius Press and getting 50 of each of titles overnighted to the store. We got them before Ignatius ran out and we sold all within a week.

  2. Mindyleigh says:

    I was just pretty much disgusted by the whole thing. How anyone could take seriously this chauvenistic, hierarchical process with its pomp was beyond me. I was muttering at the television in my living room. Thank God I’m Catholic now!

  3. Sick as a dog at home, sleeping fitfully with the TV on. Woke up, threw up again, felt better, and then started to process the rerun I was hearing from the TV. Suddenly felt MUCH better. Stayed out on the couch the rest of the afternoon, watching.

  4. Clinton says:

    Home, with a tv set up in a bedroom as I refinished floors in the rest of the house. My
    neighbors actually heard my carrying on and came over to see if everything was OK.

    Oh yes, everything was very, very OK.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    Ah yes, I too had a feeling of ‘Is it really true?!’ when I heard ‘Josephum’. And then followed a lot of dignity that, for once, I would like to have skipped (had a flash though of ‘which other Josephs were papabile?’), till at least the liberating ‘Ratzinger’ came.

    Ad multos annos!

  6. Meredith says:

    I was a freshman at Christendom College. When we heard that a new pope had been elected, the bells in the chapel started ringing and everyone ran to the gym, where there was a big screen TV. We all went crazy when the announcement was made. Bets were tallied, parties were held, a procession was made… in short, we were over the moon.

    I still love Pope Benedict just as much as I did that day. He’s done so much to heal the bitterness in the Church. He is a lover of beauty – such a rare thing these days.

  7. irishgirl says:

    I was in my car, on the way to the bank. I was listening to the classical music station that I usually tuned into; and when I heard the announcer state that the white smoke was seen from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and the bells were ringing, I raised a fist from the steering wheel and yelled, ‘HABEMUS PAPAM! HABEMUS PAPAM!’ (luckily the windows were rolled up and I wasn’t at a stop light, otherwise people would have thought I was nuts!)
    When I got to the bank, they had their TV sets tuned to CNN. I stood as close as I could to the nearest one-the volume was turned down low-and my heart was pounding, wondering who was going to be our new Pope. When Cardinal Estevez said, ‘Josephum’, I said softly to myself, ‘It’s Ratzinger!’ Then the graphics on the screen changed to show his new name, “Benedict XVI’.
    I was overjoyed-but several of the customers and/or employees turned away in disgust (they bought into the media’s portrayal of ‘God’s Rottweiler’). I sort of looked at them and said to myself, ‘Well, too bad for you!’
    After I did my business, I went out to my car and phoned a neighbor of mine who arranged the local TLM I was going to at the time, and we rejoiced together! And I was happy all that day!

  8. markomalley says:

    At work. My thought during the Interregnum was that it would be nice if they elected Cardinal Ratzinger, but there is no way.

    Then they did. I was floored and overjoyed at the same time. “This is not happening.” But it did.

  9. DavidJ says:

    I was surreptitiously watching a low-quality stream of the events at work. I couldn’t quite hear what was going on, and then I saw Ratzinger step to the balcony and start waving. I thought “Is he going to announce the pope?” Then I realized it was him. Then I grinned!

  10. Cazienza says:

    I was at the supermarket, packing the groceries away at the checkout, when my phone rang. My sister was on the other end and squealed, “We have a Pope!” So I cycled back home as fast as I could, turned on the tv, switched channels…and there was Papa Ratzinger :)

  11. irishgirl says:

    I forgot to add: a year or two later I ordered EWTN’s DVD of Papa Benedict’s election. Whenever I watch it-which I will do today-I relive that joyful time! I especially smile at hearing the half-muffled, ‘Oh, my God!’ from either Raymond Arroyo or Father Richard John Neuhaus when the name ‘Ratzinger’ was said-Father Neuhaus (may he rest in peace) was right on the money when he predicted that Cardinal Ratzinger would be elected Pope.

  12. JohnMa says:

    I was in AP Chemistry having just finished up a lab project. The teacher had CNN on the TV and the whole class sat there watching to see who the new Pope would be. Most other TVs in the school were also tuned into CNN or Fox depending on the teacher’s political leanings. All of this at a public HS no less!

  13. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    I was away at university finishing up the last semester of my B.Sc (thank goodness cause it was not a great 4 years) and didn’t care at all or know that a new pope had been elected. Also by then I had slipped away from the faith and only cared to go to Sunday Mass when I was back home just because it was a family obligation.

  14. Prof. Basto says:

    I was working, and not in the University, but as a lawyer. I was inside of a Courtroom, and my cell phone was off. When the hearing ended and I left the Courtroom, I turned my mobile phone on and dozens of messages that had been sent when the phone was off arrived. It was by reading them that I became aware of Cardinal Ratzinger’s election and of his name.

    Then I rushed to my office, to get in front of a TV screen and a computer to watch the coverage. I later watched several pieces of recorded footage of the event, but I missed the live broadcast.

  15. Sarah L says:

    I was a junior in college, and walked into the student center just in time to see the announcement on the big lobby tv. I then ran up to my friend in the cafeteria yelling “Habemus Papam!!” He’d been keeping a bracket of each cardinal’s chances, and so in a moment of great pranksmanship I convinced him the new pope was Tettamanzi, who had chosen the name Sylvester.

    Then I went and argued with my liberal advisor about the future of the Church, had some medical tests done, nearly collapsed after running a Campus Ministry event, and had to call my parents to come take me home from school. So it was both an awesome and terrible day.

  16. neworleansgirl says:

    I was home with my baby girl and glued to the TV. Pacing, fingernails drumming, pacing again.

    I had to leave to pick up my daughter at preschool shortly before the announcement was made. I tried in vain to find coverage on the radio in the car, but we were stationed in Bible belt Mississippi at the time, and I couldn’t find anything.

    I picked my daughter up and we raced home. As I pulled in the drive, my cell phone was ringing and it was my mother-in-law saying “It’s Ratzinger, it’s Ratzinger!” I grabbed the girls from their carseats and we went dancing and cheering into the house and proceeded to dance around the living room while I fumbled for the remote to get the coverage back on.


  17. tjtenor2 says:

    I was downtown Chicago at the Art Institute for a research project when I got a call from one of my friends informing me of the news. I started jumping up and down while walking down Michigan Avenue :-).

  18. benedetta says:

    I admit that I had been discouraged, worried, agitated, bitter at this news. Not because I especially had particular issues with orthodoxy as I had loved JPII and was still grieving his death. But I had believed, totally, what had been published about him that he was, what, all about condemnation, elitism, wanted to go back etc etc etc…etc.

    It took a fairly liberal priest, amidst a fairly liberal congregation, to point out that he was in touch with particular individuals who had worked closely with this Cardinal in a capacity which called for a particular sensitivity, attuned pastoral sense, who had expressed confidence after having worked with him, a good man to reconsider my harsh and quick judgement about him. For awhile, on the advice of this priest who I listened to who was not an “evil conservative”, I took a wait and see attitude.

    In the meantime I listened to some others as I went along who encouraged a more hopeful outlook than the one you commonly encounter, let’s say, in the newspapers’ summing up of what Catholicism is all about these days. And they were not saying anything political or condemning, by any means, and were quite authentically tolerant, refused to take sides in squabbles but were merely interested in listening to God’s call, responding to it. This I could trust as it was independent of the hype which seemed rooted in polarization.

    Then at some point I happened to read one of the Wednesday audiences of this Holy Father, and I was so impressed at what I was hearing, it was so helpful, and not at all about tearing down the Church but only interested in the good that I began to get into the habit of reading these audiences and homilies and then I began to find many many other things he had written and I only found this voice to be humble, clear, hopeful.

    I never did find evidence to support my initial snap judgement made based on the publicized opinions of a few. At the beginning I kept looking for and waiting for the “aha!” moment and, strangely, embarrassingly, it never came.

    It’s not always the easiest or fun thing, to find oneself in a different place than the mainstream pundits. I didn’t ask for this to happen. But now that it has I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world…Sometimes, finding a treasure, you bury it again and buy the whole field. What can I say. I loved JPII and I also love this Holy Father, Pope Benedict. What a kind, well-meaning voice. How good for us to be here together with him at this time in history. For him as well, according to what I have read, with some reluctance he assented to this calling. I think though that he knows fully what sort of times we are living in and that he is completely in touch with the needs of believers all over the world.

    I know that Americans have their particular causes and issues and concerns and problems. I am all too familiar. But it is a big Church. I don’t think that Americans, as much as it is the land of the free and the home of the brave, always have all of the answers and I know now that the answers can’t be found on the tv or in the papers either, or at the university…There are many needs right now in the Church and merely because we have the loudest voices and are most empowered by resources it doesn’t mean that we come first in all of that. Perhaps what we Americans must do is listen, to what the needs are in the rest of the Catholic world, and with humility, trust, and, trying even obedience, see how with all of our greatness we might serve, how can we help this noble Holy Father to lead?

  19. Father G says:

    I was in my year of novitiate. We (novice master, assistant novice master, and 9 novices) were on the road to visit a retired priest for the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form. My novice master stopped at a gas station to fill the tank. The rest of the novices and myself stayed in the van. When the novice master came back in the van he said, “Habemus papam…Ratzinger!” Within an hour after the news, I was attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
    I still believe to this day I attended the first Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the world in which Pope Benedict was first mentioned as Pope in the Roman Canon.

  20. worm says:

    I was doing work on my computer with a browser window open to the streaming “chimney cam”

  21. Chrissy says:

    I was pregnant with Aidan Benedict, (name already picked – great minds think alike) loading an tube feeding for a man in the final stages of a terminal disease. He thought it was funny that I was concerned no one would believe me about the name!

  22. cheyan says:

    I remember three things about the election: being glued to the news, of whatever sort, because I had left college due to illness, didn’t have a job, and thus had a lot of time to be glued to the news; going to the local Catholic bookstore and buying three books Pope Benedict wrote before he was Pope, and standing around in the bookstore watching EWTN on a tiny TV; and having to bite my tongue a lot around any Catholics more than ten years older than myself. (Around my family, I concentrated on seeming completely excited and joyful, which in retrospect probably irritated them much more than “please don’t talk about the Pope that way” would have done…)

  23. Ed the Roman says:

    I don’t remember where I was, quite. But I remember how HAPPY I was.

  24. Pedantic Classicist says:

    In my office at the university (yes, sadly enough, I was a grad student then, and am still a grad student now; though I have at least changed institutions and earned a coupla MAs/become A.B.D. in the meantime). We all gathered around a TV in the computer room up on the foreign/classical language floor. I remember that a native German prof. I didn’t know very well (but not a believer) came in and made some remark like, “I don’t care who it is, as long as it isn’t that German guy.”

    Well, surprise, surprise, it was “that German guy” and the prof. didn’t look too jubilant. I was very happy, but then had occasion to get angry at my grad student colleagues, who despite having been in the past very cordial and loving of me and never disrespectful of my Catholicism, got busy having a good laugh/sneer looking up parodies of the new Pope and having a collective eye-roll over his Nazi-youth history. They honestly didn’t get that I was simply happy to have a new Pope (regardless of who had been chosen); they were also too taken in by the media to question the dominant paradigm of anti-Ratzinger rhetoric. To their credit, they backed off when they saw I was offended and apologized.

    It’s been a great 6 years! And it’s gone so fast! Ad multos annos!

  25. TNCath says:

    Teaching the poetry of John Donne in a public high school senior English class. One of my colleagues came running down the hall to tell us that they were about to announce the name of the new pope. I asked my students (most of whom were not Catholic) if they’d like to watch history being made, to which they readily agreed. We turned on the TV and watched the moment. When I heard “Josephum” I can remember thinking, “Oh my! This is too good to be true!” At that point, my cell phone rang continuously for the remainder of the day.

  26. Mike says:

    In a classroom packed with students (mostly high school) and teachers. Minutes before he was announced, I said to one of our chaplains next to me, “You know, Benedict is a good name.”

    How I love the Pope!!

  27. Jacob says:

    I was at home, asleep. Yes, I was hoping that they’d be in there a little longer into the day before voting. :(

  28. Phil_NL says:

    @Pedantic Classicist

    Off-topic, but where else could I put it: good luck with the defense! Six years as a grad student can’t have been easy.

  29. I was listening to AM radio in the engineering trailer at the Anheuser-Busch brewery, in Fairfield, California, working at a computer. I wasn’t too surprised, but happy at the news. I was already quite aware that Ratzinger was not the man the media portrayed him to be.

  30. RichR says:

    I was in my dental office with the whole staff all crowded around the television. I was ecstatic.

    I watched the clip of the Card. Deacon announcing the HF so many times, my 5 year old had it all memorized….in Latin.

  31. Andrew Lomas says:

    I was in our lounge with my family and before it was announced I said. “Its going to be Joseph Ratzinger and he’s going to be Benedict XVI” My family were astounded. What a great day!

  32. Bryan Boyle says:

    In a secure room for a big company in the military-industrial complex doing something worthless that I don’t even remember…had EWTN streaming on my company PC and a set of headphones to keep the noise level down (think Dilbert Cube Farm of a facility…). Glued to the stream, and hoping the nannies who took care of the internet connection did not interfere…and smiling, smiling, smiling, when +Cdl Esteves said the name “Ratzinger”.

  33. tobiasmurphy says:

    I was in my dorm room watching the election. I was the only member of my Newman Center in that dorm and was using the dry-erase board on my door to announce the election results to any passersby. I did not at all expect to see Card. Ratzinger announced. It was a pleasant surprise, although the others I suspected might be elected would also have been good popes.

    I thought it was thoroughly amusing to watch the secular media speculate on who might be elected. Their speculation was all based not on reasonable claims or even the views of most bishops (let alone the movement of the Holy Spirit), but on the sensationalism found in American politics: “who will it be? The liberal bishop from Belgium? The liberation theologian from South America? These are times of change. John Paul II was against a number of things that [obviously] need revisiting. Expect the bishops to elect someone who will shake things up!”

    Turns out, they were right about that last bit. ;-)

  34. pelerin says:

    I was sitting in my front porch chatting with a friend enjoying the Spring sunshine. I had left the television on and the front door open. As it looked as though it would be some time before the white smoke appeared, my friend eventually left and very shortly afterwards the announcement was made. She is German and had just missed the announcement of the election of one of her countrymen so I had to celebrate on my own!

  35. Tony Layne says:

    I was working overtime most of that month, and could only drop in on CNN.com between calls (which were usually back-to-back, with occasional 10- or 15-second gaps). The TV was on in the break room, but I couldn’t stand there gawking all day.

    I was a different man, too … much less informed, a little more liberal but moving back to orthodoxy, and completely sold on the “rottweiler” meme. So when I heard the news, I emailed a couple of buddies: “OMG … the next successor to Peter is Cardinal Katzenjammer!” Now, I have several of his pre-election books, his encyclicals and the first volume of his life of Jesus … and a load of embarrassment to work off.

  36. MJ says:

    I was a senior in college, studying for finals…I was at my parents’ house (still lived at home). It was later that year that my aunt & I took a trip to Rome and saw the Pope at a General Audience in St. Peter’s Square – it was freezing that day!

  37. Christine says:

    I was at home with my husband and children. I was thinking that either Card. Ratzinger or Card. Arinze would be excellent choices. When they announced that it was Card. Ratzinger I was so happy I started crying–even now remembering it, I’m tearing up. The Holy Spirit is so amazing!

  38. Arieh says:

    At work, still a Protestant, on my way into the Church that Easter.

  39. mrsmontoya says:

    2005 seems like a previous life: our kids were in public school, my brother was single, I wasn’t a full Catholic, my husband was a stay-at-home dad, I worked in private industry. What a joy to look back and see how much deeper we all are in our faith now! Children and husband started Catholic school in 2006 (husband at Santa Clara University for his teaching credential), I am now confirmed, working for the Catholic Church, husband is Sacristan for our church, we all practice our faith happily and together. And I am up to chapter 6 of Jesus of Nazareth V.2. The Lord has done great things for me, and holy is His name!

  40. DominiSumus says:

    I was in my living room watching on TV. As soon as I heard “Josephus” I started thinking about what cardinals there were other than Ratzinger who had the name Joseph. I cried bitter angry tears when “Ratzinger” was announced.
    Over the years, many priests had told me how horrible he was and how he would destroy the Church if he ever became pope. After a while I decided to read his books and discovered that there wasn’t anything there that I disagreed with. I told that to the priests who had turned me against him and was told “It’s not what he says…it’s how he says it and what he does”. Then I found out that they had never read his books either.
    Even so, it took meeting him in person to prove to me that everything I had believed about him was wrong and the Holy Spirit was truly at work in his election.
    May God bless him and give him health and strength to continue leading Holy Mother Church for many more years.
    Ad Multos Annos!

  41. Legisperitus says:

    The only TV at work is in the canteen, so I was among a small knot of people staring up at a TV. My mind went through the whole “Who else is named Joseph?” conundrum until the tension was finally released and I said aloud, “It’s Ratzinger!” Then when they announced his regnal name I again said aloud, “Benedict XVI!” which had been my best guess as to what name Ratzinger might choose (preconciliar but not as “loaded” as Pius). Everyone turned and gave me a confused look; it hadn’t occurred to me in the heat of the moment that nobody else there understood Latin.

    (Oddly enough, I had had a dream the night before that Ratzinger was elected and chose the name Boniface. Later I found out that Boniface was the other alternative he weighed.)

  42. ghp95134 says:

    “…(my hairline is receding, but hasn’t been quite that routed yet… not that that matters much)…”

    Father! As a man who has a very similar “high forehead” as you, allow me: we ALWAYS think our hair looks fuller than it is — we look into the mirror and think we see ourselves as we were years ago! Also, the bright lights you were working under will make thin hair look even thinner. The solution? Either closely crop the thined-out area, or do the “Fr. Corapi” routine (as I have done for 22 years) and shave your head!

    Otherwise, you are a handsome specimen of a man for we men to emulate!

    Hair’s to you!
    –Guy Power

  43. Warren says:

    I was at home working on the computer, watching and waiting. At the announcement, my eyes filled with tears of joy and I sank to my knees and gave thanks and praise to God for giving us a holy and great pope. Every time I watch the video of the Holy Father arriving (for the first time as pope) on the balcony, my eyes still fill with tears and I choke up.

  44. Robert of Rome says:

    I was in St Peter’s Square. I did not expect Joseph Ratzinger to be elected, but went hoarse shouting with surprise and joy when he was. The Square was electrified with joy at the announcement and then at his appearance. People in the Square, used to listening to soon-to-be Blessed Pope John Paul II, were expecting Pope Benedict to speak longer than he did. There was some surprise when he left the balcony after his brief address. I turned to those in the crowd near to me and said, “What did you expect? He’s German. He’s gone to work.” A most memorable evening.

  45. Sarah R. says:

    I was a junior in high school sitting in my English class. Suddenly the vice-principal came on the intercom announced that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected Pope Benedict XVI. Everyone in the class started buzzing with excitement. Our teacher, who wasn’t Catholic, was not impressed and told us to settle down. I was pleased though, very happy. A friend who was in religion class with the only religious sister in our school said that Sister said “He’s going to take us all back pre-Vatican II!” And sister wears a habit! LOL Thank God for Pope Benedict!

  46. Alice says:

    I was a junior in college and teaching music at a small Catholic grade school to make a little extra money. I happened to teach on Tuesday mornings, so I was just finishing up my work day when the rumor that there had been white smoke filled the school. It took another 20 minutes for the announcement to be made and I kept asking everyone who the pope was and they said, “Benedict XVI.” I finally found the special ed teacher in the office and she said something about how with a name like Ratz, ratz, whatever (she couldn’t remember it) it was no wonder he’d taken a new name. (She was the one and only non-Catholic teacher in the school at the time.) I was ecstatic. A few minutes later, a couple of 7th grade girls drug me into their classroom to show me pictures on the internet because they realized that I was the only person who hadn’t seen them yet. Everyone was overjoyed and I wonder if my coworkers got the students calmed down enough to get anything done that afternoon.

  47. John B says:

    I was keeping an eye on the TV in the physician’s lounge at the hospital as I rounded on patients. It seemed forever before the announcement. Even after the fellow said “Josephus” I wasn’t clear it would be Cardinal Ratzinger. I had been an admirer of his for several years at that point and having him follow JP2 seemed too good to be true. I was walking on the clouds all day, and my wife and I threw a “Pope Benedict” party later that week.

  48. Iowander says:

    I remember following the conclave very closely hoping to see the selection of a young, energetic, progressive Pope who could be relevant in modern culture. I was hoping to see someone from Latin America or Africa that could draw more attention to the needs of the developing world. The only thing I knew about Ratzinger was that he was an old, conservative European who could not possibly project the image that I thought was right for the Church. I was so disappointed when I saw that he was elected. “I guess we have to settle for the fat-pope-thin-pope thing” thought I.

    I should have trusted more in the Holy Spirit. I have grown a lot in my faith since then. Pope Benedict XVI is the shepherd that I needed. He’s an absolute intellectual heavyweight who speaks with humility, charity, and unapologetic orthodoxy. The world is fortunate to have him.

  49. Centristian says:

    I was at the office here at the diocese, and we had the TV on. When the white smoke was reported, everyone stopped working and gathered around the TV, expecting an announcement instantly. I knew it wouldn’t be instant, but I remained and listened to the commentators speculations as to whom it might be for a while, then went back to work.

    Everyone in the office returned to the TV when the cardinals emerged onto the loggia (or whatever it’s called) and just as the cardinal began to read the announcement, didn’t the office service bell ring. I had to leave the TV at precisely the moment of the heralding of the new pope in order to serve a customer! A priest, nonetheless!

    I wasn’t very subtle about making it clear that his timing was positively awful. “Father, they’re just now announcing from the balcony of St. Peter’s the name of the new pope. We’re all watching it now.”

    He could not have been more nonchalant and dismissive. “Oh, really? Huh. Anyhow, I ordered this printer last week and it came and it’s not the right one so I need to return it.” Those are the words I heard while the rest of the Catholic world heard “annuncio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus papam!”

    After missing the announcement and the emergence of the new pope because of Father Wrongprinter, I walked into the conference room where everyone else was. They all turned to me as I walked in and said, “Ratzinger. He’s Benedict the…what did he say? Fourteenth? Seventeenth? Something.”

    I was astounded that he took the name “Benedict”. Every pope in my lifetime had been a Paul or a John Paul, and so to hear something that was neither “John” nor “Paul” was amazing. I remember…I don’t know why, apart from the common regnal numeral…making an instant association with Louis XVI. And then I noticed that the new Pope was wearing a black shirt under his white cassock and I thought to myself, “boy’ I’ll bet he’s wishing he wore a white shirt, today.”

    It was amusing (and a little eerie) to read about the new pope on the internet, later, and to discover about 15 internet prophets who predicted that the pope to follow John Paul would be called “Benedict XVI”.

  50. I was with a bunch of liberal Protestants in Germany. They were flabbergasted, disappointed, angry, thinking that surely after JPII the Catholic Church would see its mistake and elect someone modern and ecumenical. I remember one guy — a good guy — freaking out and talking (in slight jest) about how B16 would be burning heretics on bonfires of condoms. Then I was asked what I thought. I said, “Wie sagt man ‘paranoia’ auf Deutsch?” The secretary responded, “Paranoia”, and good natured Teutonic giggling followed.

  51. antheald says:

    Interesting how many of us were somewhere on the spectrum from disappointed to disgusted with the news.

    I was at the Catholic High school where I teach in England. Although I’d drifted towards a point where I was so theologically liberal as to be essentially agnostic, I had found myself strangely moved by the death of John Paul II. I guess I was really hoping for a liberal pope, and felt that only radical reform in that direction could ‘save’ the church (I guess what I really meant was save the church from me leaving it, and was so self absorbed that I imagined that to be a terrible thing). So when I saw that it was Ratzinger I felt as though the Church had somehow shot itself in the foot.

    Well, it’s taken me a good few years to come round to a point where I really want to be faithful to the Church’s teaching, but Benedict XVI has played an important part in that inward conversion. He changed a lot of minds over here with his visit last year, and those whose minds he didn’t change found themselves denied the ammunition they were sure his visit was going to provide.

  52. John Murray says:

    Oh I remember all right! I was right here in my office, sitting in this chair, staring at this computer screen (did eventually get the book written I was supposed to be working on)…and then grabbing my phone to tell my wife (homeschooling the then 7 year olds) “It’s Ratzinger!! IT’S RATZINGER!!! Woohoooooo!!!!!!” Could not have been happier.

    The Holy Spirit has really blessed the Church with JPII and Benedict.

  53. oledocfarmer says:

    On-call at the University of Virginia Hospital. Went into the residents’ lounge and saw the news.

    I’d seen a ton of unexpected things during residency, but this one was the most unexpected. In a very good way.

  54. Mark R says:

    I was on lunch break outside the Library of Congress talking on the phone to my future wife. I could hear the bell peals from nearby St. Peter’s.

  55. teomatteo says:

    I was coming back from the boston mara. and in the detroit metro terminal and cnn had the thing. I remember hearing someone say something about this Pope being a ‘transitional’ pope. (i presumed due to his age). They was wrong.

  56. jkm210 says:

    I was at CUA as a grad student, one of the greatest places to be at that time! The media had been camped out on the lawn of the Basilica since John Paul II had died. My friends and I were eating lunch in the cafeteria, and they had a small TV bolted to the wall in there. Everyone got up and crowded around to see what color the smoke would be. When it came out white, everyone was cheering and all of the bells on campus began ringing. We rushed back to my future husband’s dorm room to see the announcement. My bets had been on Cardinal Ratzinger all along, so I wasn’t surprised.

    Our poor friend Dave, who is now a priest, was actually trapped all alone in a classroom, taking the comprehensive exam for his PhD. When he heard the bells ringing, he knew it had happened, but didn’t know the outcome, and he wasn’t supposed to leave the room until the time for his exam was up. Someone finally came along to tell him the news, but he said he was going crazy in there, waiting all alone.

  57. JaneC says:

    I was an undergraduate at Gonzaga. I slept late that day, but immediately upon awakening I had a feeling I should turn on the television and look for news. The announcement was just being made. I quickly readied myself and rushed across campus to see the only person I knew would not be in class–my friend who worked in the campus ministry office. On the way, I passed some dormitories, some of which were hanging out flags and banners in celebration. I also passed the Religious Studies building, which was silent (although I half expected to hear wailing and gnashing of teeth).

    Upon my arrival in the campus ministry office, my friend and I jumped up and down a bit with excitement, but she hushed my squeals of delight, saying that the nun who worked there had just entered her office and slammed the door, obviously in a very black mood. We laughed quietly at her disappointment. The student chapel was very full at the nighttime Mass, and there was a grand party afterward.

  58. Jayna says:

    I was skipping class to stay at home and watch the coverage on CNN. At the time, I had not yet returned to the Church and so was taken in by all the rottweiler tripe. And yet, when he came out on that balcony and the crowd started roaring, I don’t remember feeling angry or bitter or disappointed. I remember getting chills and goosebumps and even a little teary-eyed. I still can’t explain that reaction.

  59. JennyZ says:

    I wasn’t Catholic yet, but had been going to Mass, and was trying to understand it all. Even then, I knew the choice was immensely important. God Bless Papa Benedict!

  60. maynardus says:

    I have probably recounted this story in the WDTPRS combox before, e.g. one or five years ago, but it might be interesting to some readers in light of the comments about the various names which it was expected/predicted that the new pope would take.

    I was at work and we had the television on in the office. As soon as the announcement was made I started clicking around on my PC to see what various news outlets had to say about it. When I went to the EWTN website I clicked on one of the links and opened a page headed “Pontificate of Pius XIII“!

    Undoubtedly the page was one of several laid-out in advance in the event of the election of any of the front-running papabile, and obviously they had to put SOMETHNG in there as a placeholder, but I still got a kick out of it. I was about to refresh my browser when I thought of taking a screeenshot for posterity.

    [Father – I’ll send it to you in case you’d like to post it as a curiosity…]

    The one thing that struck me was how many of my co-workers – nearly all of them non- or nominal Catholics – seemed to know who Cardinal Ratzinger was. For the most part they had a negative opinion about him, but all of them seemed to think I’d be happy about his election. They were right! Just goes to show how much the MSM can shape attitudes in areas far beyond their competency…

  61. Elly says:

    I was at work and was told that a “nazi” just got elected.

  62. papaefidelis says:

    I took the day off from work. I had been keeping an all-night vigil (except to go to Mass) and, exhausted, decided to nod off for a bit. Wouldn’t you know? I awoke just as HH was turning around and returning to the loggia of St. Peter’s. I was shocked, but in a good way. I did not think the cardinals bold enough to elect him, I thought American and German cardinals would block his nominations, and I thought that lingering animosities from the atrocities of WWII and the holocaust would put an end to any consideration of a Teutonic pope. Moreover, I thought that any cardinal who would dare (DARE!) publicly and often to call for a “resourcement” of the liturgical reform and a reconsideration of the path taken in the wake of the Second Vatican Council would cause the immediate demise of the “Left.” It did not and I do regret that. I had hoped to see the “Panzer Kardinal” that I’d heard so much about but, alas! He is the same scholarly, humane, kind, gentle man as he was before his election. Deo volente.

  63. jucundushomo says:

    I was at work. My job at the time was in a hospital kitchen, and we were getting the patients’ meals together for lunchtime. Most people there were in a state of high anticipation from the conclave – this being Pittsburgh, a densely Catholic and ethnic region. I remember the moment my cell phone (in my pocket against regulations) began to buzz nonstop. We had a Pope! And Cardinal Ratzinger, at that!

    Shortly thereafter I managed to get up to one of the main floors and into a lounge with a television. The Holy Father had just appeared on St. Peter’s loggia. When he gave his apostolic blessing I fell to my knees, my heart pounding.

    I think I rode on an adrenaline high for the rest of the day.

  64. teaguytom says:

    I was home from night work and woke up to watch tv. I heard some guy with a deep voice doing commentary with Chris Wallace. Then I googled Fr Z and the rest is history. I was excited because I wasn’t born for the last papal conclave. Plus all of the media’s darlings lost the election. As you recall, they were drooling over either a 3rd world pope or Tettamanzi because he was supposedly lax on condoms. Then Ratzinger made his appearence and the media grew confused and started wetting themselves. The “panzerkardinal” was the new pope. I have the entire fox news coverage with Fr Z and Chris Wallace doing commentary on VHS somewhere. I will have to convert it to dvd for posterity.

  65. anna 6 says:

    Like so many others have expressed, I was very apprehensive after hearing the name “Ratzinger” since I had heard such negative things about him (despite the fact that I was so moved by his homily for JP2). The evening before the election my husband had announced that a Ratzinger papacy would be a disaster…
    But since, I have become a devoted student of Benedict who has even converted my former cranky spouse. Today, life is beautiful.

  66. LaxMom25 says:

    I was living in Germany, holding my new baby, TV on.
    I will never forget how happy I was, yet I could never have imagined the impact Pope Benedict XVI would have on my family and the formation of my children’s faith.
    Thank you all for posting on this – I am overwhelmed with joy – actually in tears – and gratitude for this faith we share.

  67. bernadette says:

    I was working at the hospital and was coming back from the cafeteria with my lunch. My co-workers who knew I was Catholic told me that a new Pope had just been elected. I ran into an empty patient room to watch the TV and let out a cheer of pure joy when Papa Ratzinger came out on the balcony. My friends came running in to see what the fuss was all about.
    Six months later I was in Rome, at St. Peter’s, at Mass with the Holy Father as celebrant!

  68. Gabrielle says:

    In deepest rural Sussex (UK).
    I remember the name “Josephum” followed by what seemed interminable “eminentissum” and “reverentissimum” ‘s (were there not 3 Josephs in the running?).
    When the Holy Father’s name was read out I screamed and stamped my foot so hard with joy that I hurt myself.
    Still screaming with joy. God Bless Our Pope!!

  69. AnAmericanMother says:

    Ah, happy days . . . .

    I was at work, in my room in the office suite, in front of this same computer screen . . . . listening to the radio because the internet was impossibly slow.

    When the Cardinal announced “Josephum” I shouted loud enough to be heard down the hall, “It’s Ratzinger!!! OOOORAH!” and my coworkers — Methodists and Baptists — were puzzled but happy to receive my assurance that all the bad press about “God’s Rottweiler” was undeserved. I’d been Catholic for about a year at that point, but I’d been reading some of Cardinal Ratzinger’s work and was tremendously impressed. About halfway through Jesus of Nazareth part II, and continue to be impressed — even more if that’s possible.

  70. Maria Edi says:

    I was working at a bookshop, back then. I was listening to the radio and when they told Ratzinger was the chosen one, my heart leapt of pure joy. Here in Brazil, we have a lot of priests going along with Teologia da Libertação (Marxist Christianism …) and they said Pope Benedict was one hard to love … No, I don’t think so. He brought back masses in Latin, yay!!! I like him very much, and I’m happy to feel, again, the joy I felt that day, six years ago.

  71. MissOH says:

    I was at the airport getting ready to catch a flight with co-workers to a company meeting in Las Vegas. Luckily they airport had tv’s in the gate areas tuned to MSNBC and the flight was a bit late to I was able to see and hear Habemus Papam and see it was the then Cardinal Ratzinger. I was very excited though most of my co-workers who were Protestant, had no idea. One of them of German descent asked a few question and was pleased the new pope was German.

  72. GirlCanChant says:

    I was a junior in college and was supposed to be studying for an econ exam. Needless to say, not much studying got done that day. I admit that I was not thrilled with the decision at the time, as I still had some crazy ideas back then, but I have come to love Pope Benedict since then, especially now that I assist in the EF.

  73. robtbrown says:

    I was getting ready to head to the tennis courts, turned on TV and saw that they had been in session for an unusually long time. It was fairly obvious something was up, so I hung around for a while.

    From my Roman years I knew he was extraordinarily well respected by Cardinals not Western Liberals. I thought that no one could be elected without the Ratzinger stamp of approval, but I didn’t think he was electable. I thought he would run interference for a few sessions, then someone like Bertone would be elected. I was stunned when the announcement was made.

  74. Kaneohe says:

    I was home watching the lastest news broadcast. Like others who have posted I was very disappointed God’s Rottweiler was our new pope. I immediately went to Amazon to see if there were any books about him and ordered his memoirs, Milestones, both Seewald’s and Messori’s book length interviews, along with a few of Cardinal Ratzinger books. Reading the books made me realize what I had heard, and sadly believed about our new Holy Father was completely wrong. I continue to read his writtings (I am two thirds of the way through Vol 2 of Jesus of Nazareth) and am constant amazed and enlighten. He has competely changed my life and outlook. I am happy to say that I am now one of our Holy Father’s defenders against people – who like my old self – are ignorant of the truth.
    I look forward to his having a very long and blessed reign and pray for our Holy Father everyday. Thank you heavenly Father for giving us a Holy Shepherd to guide us. Amen.

  75. Gail F says:

    I was at home cleaning before my kids got back from school, and I turned on the TV to see what color the smoke was. The announcers said it was black… no, it was white! I got so excited I could hardly stand it, a reaction that surprised me very much. When the gentleman came out on the balcony to announce the new pope, I was so pleased to be able to understand the Latin (I haven’t studied Latin since college and I had no idea what the traditional message was, to me it was all new). When he said “Joseph” I was jumping up and down and cheering. I figured it was Ratzinger, though I hardly knew anything about him (I did have a “Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club” mug, but only because I thought it was funny) and I was right! I was so happy, although not because it was Cardinal Ratzinger, but because we had a pope! The pope is, in a way, our king, the king of all the Catholics in the world, and I felt very much a part of the whole world. Of course, Christ is really our king but I hope I make myself clear. Again, I really did not expect to such a feeling, but it was a very wonderful feeling. Later that day I had to stop in our parish office for something and nobody seemed very excited or interested in the new pope (no surprise there). He is such an amazing and wonderful man, God gave us two great ones in a row!

  76. Tim Ferguson says:

    I and my classmates were preparing for our Canon Law comprehensive exams. One of my classmates, in particular, was very agitated. She was scheduled to take her exams right after lunch. She went to her room to get ready and told us that if they announced who it was, come and tell her. She said, “If it’s Ratzinger, I’ll just go in and say, ‘Ask any question you want, it doesn’t matter, I’m leaving the Church.'” She returned to the TV room just in time for the announcement. Everyone was silent, looking her way, trying to see her reaction. It was dead silent for about 30 seconds before I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I jumped up with a whoop and said, “I have to call my mother!” I ran down the hall, poured some coffee into my Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club mug and called home.

    My classmate has since come around a bit. She now says that she still strongly dislikes Joseph Ratzinger, but she’s come to appreciate Pope Benedict. brick by brick…

  77. MikeM says:

    I was in high school and one of our priests was standing in the hallway to tell us at the next break between classes. I got the sense that the priest was less than pleased, so initially I was concerned. When I got home at about 9:30 that night, I decided to do some research and while I’m not sure what I sensed about him at the time, but he struck me as someone I would come to like. I decided that I was going to be hopeful about his pontificate.

    That hope was well placed!

    His talks and writings have done so much to deepen my Faith over these past years. I am very grateful!

  78. MikeM says:

    I should add that I talked to that Priest recently and he has warmed up to our Holy Father!

  79. Augustine Terra Mariae says:

    I was working full-time on the staff of a parish in the old Midwest at the time. The staff had gathered in the rectory kitchen to watch the proceedings from Rome. I was ecstatically happy with the announcement, while my colleagues, including the pastor, clearly were not. Fortunately, the city went into recession in advance of the nation, all of the parish’s full-time staff positions were eliminated, and in 2006 (with the help of unemployment insurance) I made my way back to the east coast. It’s hard to imagine that it has been only six years ago, but at the same time that rectory kitchen seems a world away.

  80. weneleh says:

    I was at work on the phone with my favorite cloistered nun giving her a minute by minute update. We were both crazy with excitement when they said “Ratzinger.”

  81. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I was teaching at the time, but there was a small, black-and-white television in the office downstairs. My boss was over the moon, but didn’t know the good Cardinal well. I offered to talk with the students since I was a member of the Ratzinger Fan Club, just to let them know what I knew of him. Boss accepted.

    I confess immense relief. I had been rather frightened that someone in the stripe of the good Archbishop of Los Angeles was going to be elected. What joy. What relief. In the years since I have noted so many of his actions admiringly, and look forward to many more years of his glorious reign.

  82. yatzer says:

    I had just recently, having watched JPII’s funeral, to come back home to the Church and was happy that someone closely linked to him had been elected.

  83. pjthom81 says:

    I was on the train in New Jersey and on the phone with a friend of mine who had recently converted to Catholicism (he was originally an Episcopalian.) It was his misfortune to have gone to a Catholic school that emphasized that 70’s Catholicism. Consequently, he wrote the Catholic Church off as having sold out its Christianity…..until he met some Catholics with other ideas.

    He was still going to said Catholic school when Benedict was elected. Benedict’s election seemed to be a clarifying moment for him since it marked a repudiation of much of what he had been taught at school. Both he and I knew that Ratzinger might be elected, and we discussed the possibility and the implications. So when Ratzinger was elected Benedict XVI, I got an immediate call….followed by his impromptu interviews with various disgruntled teachers.

    For my part, I was just extremely happy. I felt that ever since oh…1969 the Catholic world and the world in general had been in an unnecessary trama I didn’t fully understand. I was born in 1981, so I missed a lot of it….and the reforms of the 1980’s seemed to do a lot to get things back on track…but it seemed incomplete. In high school and college I got treated to lots of Catholics who would be enthusiastic about their religion…but who would not take all of its requirements too seriously. I did not understand those who thought that if they disagreed with the Church, then the Church must move. I particularly did not understand this after noting that they came to this conclusion on an average reflection time of approximately 20 seconds. I felt that I was from a different world. It has been my hope that Benedict XVI would restore much of what had been lost…in the sense of a culture that consulted God before coming to a conclusion. I may be unduly optimistic, but little by little I believe that Benedict has been successful in his endeavors….despite the din of those who wish to move the world in the opposite direction. In making this observation, I am very aware that there is a huge debt owed….to those like John Paul II, who stopped the bleeding and prevented the trends of the 70’s from triumphing completely.

  84. newtrad says:

    I was at home celebrating my second daughter’s 8th birthday. As homeschoolers we took a Catholic holiday to watch the election on EWTN. We jumped up and down and were so excited. At the time we were just learning about the Old Latin MAss, now we live where we can attend a full EF parish. Today we celebrated her 14th birthday, went to noon Mass and talked about what a great Pope he has been. We are so blessed! Deo Gratias! Long Live Papa Benny as we lovingly call him.

  85. surgedomine says:

    I was next door to the Vatican with a friend. I saw the white smoke on the TV news and went down to St. Peter’s Square where I awaited the appearance of the new Pope.

  86. John Nolan says:

    Best bit was the morning after when the BBC trundled out the usual liberal Catholic pundits to comment on it. One , a prominent ex-nun and would-be priestess said, with a note of desperation in her voice: “He’s got to show he’s prepared to listen to us”. Priceless.

  87. sejoga says:

    I was at home for lunch from school when I heard about it. I want to say I got home just as it was being announced, but the news may have been an hour or so old when I heard it. It was very exciting for me just because it was my first papal election, but I was mildly disappointed that it had gone to someone so obvious, even though I loved Ratzinger and I definitely wouldn’t have had it any other way now. I watched the Fox News coverage, so I must have seen Fr. Z for the first time then as well! (I definitely didn’t know who he was at the time.)

    I also recall going back to school and telling my French teacher, who lived in Germany for about 15 years so she was familiar with people like Schonborn and Ratzinger, that it was Cardinal Ratzinger who had been elected. Even though I initially wasn’t super pumped about his election, the aghast expression on her face when I told her the news convinced me that he would be quite in line with what I was hoping for out of a Pope.

  88. HighMass says:

    How does one THANK GOD for THIS HOLY POPE! What found memories of 6yrs ago today………….

  89. Eileen T says:

    I was at work when the news came through. My non–Catholic employer was the one to inform me. He asked if that was a good choice. . . I think the fact that I was grinning ear-to-ear and had tears in my eyes might have tipped him off that it was.

  90. QMJ says:

    I was at St. Peter’s Square. My thoughts at the time: YES!!!!!!

  91. mlwalker1972 says:

    At work, on my old team. I was delighted to here that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI. I immediately called my father to let him know. Deo gratias!

  92. jilly4ski says:

    I was a freshman at College of Saint Benedicts/Saint John’s University. I was climbing the stairs to the 4th floor of the Quad to my symposium class (taught by a sister), when the bells of the Abby church started to ring. Sister expressed her disappointment in class. After class I went to Sexton and watch some of the coverage on the tvs there.

  93. briaangelique says:

    I don’t remember where I was, and I hadn’t even become Catholic at that time, but I remember being pretty happy with the news.

  94. thesheepcat says:

    I was at my favourite neighbourhood cafe when one of the staff got a call on his cell phone from a friend telling him the news. I was very pleased, having been an admirer of Cardinal Ratzinger for some years. Within about two months I started attending Mass, and I was received into the Church in September that year.

  95. RichardT says:

    It was a champagne moment!

    I was celebrating even though it meant I lost my big outside bet on Cardinal Pell.

  96. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    The EXACT moment? Sitting in my 1998 Malibu in the Commissary parking lot at Travis AFB and praying, praying desperately it would be Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I was more than happy when I heard the news.

  97. robtbrown says:

    Tim Ferguson says:

    I and my classmates were preparing for our Canon Law comprehensive exams. One of my classmates, in particular, was very agitated. She was scheduled to take her exams right after lunch. She went to her room to get ready and told us that if they announced who it was, come and tell her. She said, “If it’s Ratzinger, I’ll just go in and say, ‘Ask any question you want, it doesn’t matter, I’m leaving the Church.’”

    I wonder whether she could leave–to leave she would have to be in it.

    I can’t understand why someone of her apparent ilk would want to study canon law.

  98. EWTN Rocks says:

    Even though I wasn’t a practicing Catholic at the time, I was home that day watching TV (I’m not sure why I was home as I’m usually at work). I remember seeing the white smoke, hearing the announcement, getting a chill, and feeling extremely proud. That should have told me something then – I’m not sure why it took five years for me to return to the Church!

  99. adeoamata says:

    I was in class at Thomas Aquinas College, and someone began ringing the chapel bell vigorously. We discovered the cause of the commotion after class, and headed down to the chaplain’s residence (with the only available television) in time to hear the unveiling of the new pope’s identity!

  100. Kerry says:

    Wow! Six years now…I was at a previous job and remember a fellow employee and friend, and Catholic abandoner almost spit out, “It’s Ratzinger!” He had no reply when asked, “Why do you care? You’ve quit the Church”. Very curious, and still clear in the mind’s ear and eyes.

  101. cornelius74 says:

    I was attending a Mass at the Dominican monastery of St.Egidius in the centre of Prague, Czech Republic, the city where I live. Just as the Mass begun, one brother came to the presbyterium in quite a hurry and visibly agitated. We started to recognise that perhaps… habemus papam! And yes, couple of minutes later the prior – who happens to be my elementary school-mate – announced the gaudium magnum. So we could direct our prayers immediately at the new Pope. It has been one of the most wonderful moments of my still short Christian life indeed. I was baptized less than a month before Benedict’s election, on the Easter Vigil on March 25th. When I recall this, which happens quite often, I keep wondering about the Grace given to me that evening.

  102. cl00bie says:

    I already had my Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club bumper sticker “Dropping the hammer on heresy since 1982” and I was jumping up and down cheering! :)

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