Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany became the 265th pontiff and has assumed the name Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger served for 20 years as John Paul II's chief theological adviser. He is widely known for his conservative stand on various catholic and church issues.
In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination.
Once the archbishop of Munich, Germany, and for many years prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Ratzinger, 78, was one of the most powerful men in the Vatican and is widely acknowledged as a leading theologian.