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Allen: John Paul, Benedict 'very different men'

Ratzinger 'chief intellectual architect of John Paul II's papacy'

CNN Vatican analyst John Allen
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A profile of Pope Benedict XVI

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ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Before Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger assumed the title of Pope Benedict XVI, he earned the nickname "Cardinal No" for policing the boundaries of Roman Catholic teachings.

As dean of the College of Cardinals and head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger served as the late Pope John Paul II's chief theological adviser.

One of CNN's Vatican analysts, John Allen has written a soon-to-be-published biography of Ratzinger and he shared his observations with CNN anchor Judy Woodruff from Rome.

WOODRUFF: This pope was -- Cardinal Ratzinger was -- selected after, we think, four or five ballots. Does that say anything to you?

ALLEN: Yes, I think it says that there was an overwhelming consensus among many church watchers, and obviously among the cardinals themselves, going into this conclave. Cardinal Ratzinger was a leading candidate. And it did not take them long, in the end, to settle on him as the next supreme pontiff -- that is, chief leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

And therefore, I don't think this was a terrible earthquake. You know, there's an old saying around Rome that he who goes into the conclave a pope comes out a cardinal -- meaning, the front-runners don't win. Well, obviously, in this case that turned out not to be the case. And I think therefore, unlike many previous popes -- unlike, say Karol Wojtyla, the cardinal of Krakow, or Albino Luciano, the patriarch of Venice, the two popes of 1978. They came into office as something of question marks. It wasn't really terribly clear what they stood for to much of the rest of the world.

Obviously, that is not going to be the case with Pope Benedict XVI. This is undoubtedly the most published, the most talked about, the most scrutinized member of the College of Cardinals. He is that most rare of Vatican officials who has been a celebrity in his own time. Normally Vatican officials move in the shadows, but Cardinal Ratzinger has published books that are runaway bestsellers. He has given extensive media interviews around the world. There is a long, long track record there, and obviously in the coming hours and days, we will spend a lot of time unpacking that track record to get some clues as to where Pope Benedict XVI might intend to lead the 1.1 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church.

WOODRUFF: How different will he be from John Paul II?

ALLEN: Well, I think the overwhelming things you will notice are the points of continuity. And I mean Cardinal Ratzinger has, in some sense, been the chief intellectual architect of John Paul II's papacy for the last 24 years. And so if anyone is expecting significant doctrinal swings from the positions taken by John Paul II, they're going to be disappointed.

On the other hand, these are very different men and those of us who have covered them over the years -- you know, beyond the obvious symphony between the two, we also notice subtle differences. John Paul II has over his -- before he became pope, was, for most of his career a pastor. That is, worked directly in pastoral settings. Now he obviously was also an intellectual, but he had a great love for the outdoors. He had a remarkable connection with youth, loved to travel, and of course, continued that as pope, had a remarkable common touch.

These are not things that one immediately associates with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. It would be interesting to see whether Pope Benedict XVI continues in the mold of some of the stylistic elements of John Paul II's papacy, whether he travels as much, whether he canonizes and beatifies as much, whether he stages as many sort of spectacles in St. Peter's Square. John Paul had a great flair for show business, so whether Pope Benedict will want to continue that remains to be seen.

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