Pope Benedict XVI
Just in--a new pope has been elected. He's Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Ratzinger from Germany), considered a hard-line conservative.
I think it's interesting, in light of my previous post about cardinals over 80 not being allowed to vote for pope, that the new pope is 78 years old. So we came very close to that speculative scenario in which the new pope would be considered too old be part of the selection process, but not too old to serve as pope.
Other biographical facts about this pope that caught my eye, from the Wikipedia article I linked to: he deserted from the German army during WWII (a move punishable by death), and was briefly held by the Americans as a prisoner of war. Also, he was a university professor for a while, but "was confirmed in his traditionalist views by the liberal atmosphere of Tübingen and the Marxist leanings of the student movement of the 1960s." Hmmm.
It seems that the cardinals aren't interested in any change right now from the conservative doctrines of John Paul II (although I'm not a Catholic, I'd hoped for someone less conservative). But, by choosing an older man, they also don't seem to want to lock this up for a long time.
I wish him well in dealing with the problems within the church and the world, and in following in the large footsteps of the charismatic John Paul II.