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World leaders extend good wishes to new pope

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd at the Vatican after his election Tuesday.
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Roman Catholic Church

(CNN) -- World leaders lauded conservative German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's election Tuesday as head of the Roman Catholic Church. Many of them referred to the 78-year-old pontiff by his chosen papal name Pope Benedict XVI.

  • German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called it: "A great honor for our whole country. In Pope Benedict XVI, a pope has been chosen who knows the world Church like no one else. He is a great, world-renowned theologian. Pope Benedict XVI is a worthy successor to Pope John Paul II." His statement was reported by Reuters.
  • In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush told reporters: "I want to offer congratulations to Pope Benedict XVI, a man of great wisdom, and knowledge. He's a man who serves the Lord. And we remember well a sermon at the pope's funeral in Rome -- how his words touched our hearts and the hearts of millions. We join our fellow citizens and millions around the world who pray for continued strength and wisdom as His Holiness leads the Catholic Church."
  • United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: "The United Nations and the Holy See share a strong commitment to peace, social justice, human dignity, religious freedom and mutual respect among the world's religions. The secretary-general looks forward to the contributions His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will make in strengthening those values."
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday: "Russia is committed to continuing its constructive political dialogue and interaction with the Holy See in the interest of solving global problems, strengthening the values of goodness, justice and humanism." Although the Vatican and Russian Orthodox Church have had strained relations over Orthodox accusations of Catholic "poaching" on believers, the Russian government has maintained a positive relationship.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in a statement: "I ... state the willingness of the government of Spain to sustain the historic relations between Spain and the Holy See and to cooperate with Your Holiness during your mandate. I take this opportunity, Your Holiness, to send you the testimony of my highest consideration and esteem."
  • French President Jacques Chirac, in a statement attributed to Reuters, offered the new pope "my warmest congratulations and sincere good wishes for the high mission that has just been entrusted on the head of the Catholic Church. ... France, faithful to its history and to the principles that guide its action, will pursue the trusting dialogue that it has always had with the Holy See, in particular in the common fights for peace, justice, solidarity and the dignity of man."
  • Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of mainly Muslim Malaysia said he hoped the Islamic world would work with the new pope and "engender greater trust and lasting peace between the faithful of all the world's religions," according to Reuters.
  • In his statement reported by Reuters, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said: "I certainly express the feelings of all Italians, and am particularly delighted, when I present Your Holiness with the warm and respectful homage of the Italian government."
  • The president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, told Reuters in a statement: "The world responded in grief and wonder to the passing of John Paul II. The election of his successor became the concern of very many people throughout the world. You embody their hopes for greater unity among peoples and a more just and caring human family. Your guidance and leadership amid the complexities of modern life will be crucial."
  • Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, said: "We worked closely with Cardinal Ratzinger on many issues, including the Holy See's relationship with Israel and the church's condemnation of anti-Semitism. Cardinal Ratzinger provided the theological underpinning for many of the major advances in Jewish-Catholic relations in the past quarter century."
  • Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Wednesday the new pope came to the leadership "at a very important time of both challenge and opportunity for Christianity around the world." Howard said Benedict XVI was a person who would "reach out" not only to Christians around the world but also to people of other faiths. "I believe that he will give great leadership to the Catholic Church and will be a source of reassurance to the Christian Church generally throughout the world."
  • President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, the world's biggest Catholic country, voiced hope the new pontiff would promote "peace and social justice at the same time as reviving the spiritual and moral values of the Church," according to Reuters.

  • Reuters contributed to this report.

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