20 April 2005
President Thabo Mbeki has joined the rest of the world in congratulating the Holy See on electing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope to succeed Pope John Paul II.
Speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia while on a state visit there, Mbeki said His Holiness assumed leadership of more than 1.1-billion Catholics at a time when the world and religious leaders faced major challenges such as poverty and development.
“South Africa expresses its conviction that Pope Benedict XVI and indeed the Roman Catholic Church will remain seized of and ally themselves with the global struggle for a better Africa and a better world”, Mbeki said.
Ratzinger is to be inaugurated as the Roman Catholic Church’s 265th leader on Sunday, being elected Pope 17 days after the death of Pope John Paul II.
Ratzinger was born in Bavaria, Germany on April 16, 1927, and endured conscription into the Hitler Youth as a teenager in the 1940s.
Mbeki said this gave him first-hand knowledge of racism, a scourge that was by no means defeated in the world.
“We in Africa see him as a potential ally of insight and strength in renewed warfare to create a new, safer and fairer world”, Mbeki said.
Ratzinger served as Pope John Paul II’s theological adviser for most of his pontificate.