A new Pope has been elected, but is he a new hope for Catholics, and other Christians, worldwide?
Pope Benedict XVI, is the former Cardinal Ratzinger, the theological "muscle" behind Pope John Paul II. He is a conservative, maintianing traditional views on women, sexuality, and family. In that sense he is not a new hope to many Roman Catholics who were hoping for a more moderate Pontiff. He is also a German a European, and thus not a hope for those who thought the time had come for a Pope to be selcted from the Americas, where the majority of Roman Catholics actually reside.
However I am inclined to look at Ratzinger as something of an interim Pope. Among Conseratives no Cardinal could match his qualifications and profile, and the liberal wing of the College of Cardinals had no one spokesman to match against Ratzinger.
One can only see that changing, and soon. Ratzinger is old at 78, even for a new Pope, and that is one reason why some thought he would not get elected. Ratzinger's pontificate is not likely to last beyond 5-7 years, though of course anything is possible. In that time we can expect to see maneuvering amongst the liberals to prepare a candidate to replace Benedict XVI.
A lot can happen in 5-7 years of course, but Ratzinger is I think unlikely to be a great reformer of the Roman Catholic Church in any way. He will likely stay the course. That makes ratzinger a safe choice for both conservatives and liberals. The two groups may spend his papcy trying to position themselves to determine his replacement.