POPE BENEDICT XVI: I Am a Simple Humble Worker in the Vineyard of the Lord. - POPE BENEDICT XVI YESTERDAY

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Byline: GARY JONES and STEPHEN MOYES

Benedict on .. CELIBACY Not compulsion. He is accepted as a priest only when he does it of his own accord Benedict on .. ISLAM It has had moments of great splendour and decadence in the course of its history Benedict on .. GAYS It is more or less a strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil Benedict on .. JEWS We are waiting for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Jesus Christ

HARDLINE new pope Joseph Ratzinger meekly described himself yesterday as a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord".

The 78-year-old German - a former Hitler Youth member who is dubbed "God's Rottweiler" - emerged as leader of the world's 1.1billion Catholics after one of the fastest elections in 100 years.

As the 265th pontiff he took the name Benedict XVI, possibly signalling his intention to be a peacemaker after Pope Benedict XV early in the last century.

The Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin called him "a man of extraordinary intellect, of deep spirituality and one of the leading theologians of the late twentieth century.". He added: "His lifestyle is one of simplicity, indeed austerity."

Primate of Ireland Archbishop Sean Brady said: "At the beginning of the third millennium we are blessed with a deeper sense of our common humanity and with a shared sense of responsibility in striving for a more just and peaceful world.

"Pope Benedict XVI will play a critical part in progressing this search, in engaging with people of all faiths and none. in constructive dialogue about the joy and hopes, the challenges and the fears of the world. This is a daunting prospect.

"So I ask Catholics throughout Ireland and all people of goodwill to pray for Pope Benedict XVI the 264th successor to Saint Peter as he begins his pontificate."

But Benedict's zeal for Catholic orthodoxy, which has won him the nicknames of "The Enforcer" and the "Panzer Cardinal", worries those seeking a softer church line on contraception, abortion, women priests and homosexuality.

Christian Aid's Dr Daleep Mukarji declared: "The Church faces grave challenges in the developing world from HIV. We would welcome a fresh approach."

Irish politicians united in welcoming Benedict XVI's pontificate. President Mary McAleese was one of the first people to congratulate him yesterday evening after he was elected, just minutes after he appeared on the Vatican balcony to greet the thousands who had gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

She said: "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.

"May your acceptance of this tremendous burden of service bear fruit in our world. May God give you strength for these new cares."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern spoke on behalf of his Government and the Irish people.

He said: "Pope Benedict XVI is a man of profound learning and knows only too well the pressures which await him in the office of Pope. …