A local papal scholar said Tuesday the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI views the church as separate from the world and sees Roman Catholicism as a sort of counterculturalism with little room for doctrinal debate.

He has a view of a much smaller church than John Paul, II. Hes not concerned about everybody, said Tom Poundstone, professor of religious studies at St. Marys College in Moraga.

The 78-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was named Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, the oldest pontiff to be elected in 275 years. His close relationship with his predecessor and position as head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has made him the most recognized cardinal among lay Catholics — especially those who disagree with the church.

Poundstone, a moral theologian who holds a doctorate in Christian ethics, described Ratzinger as a brilliant scholar and one of the most intelligent of the cardinals.

The church might end up re-trenching for a period of time, said Poundstone, who said he anticipated Ratzinger would be more interested in preserving a smaller, more dynamic church than accommodating for the rest of the world.

Under the new pope, Catholics should not expect doctrinal changes on hot-button issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

Rev. Dan Danielson, pastor of the Catholic Community of Pleasanton, said Catholics would be naive to expect such changes under any pope.

(The church) is not like a democracy.


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Its not going to be compromised at all, nor in my opinion should it be, Danielson said.

Others have expressed concerns about the new pontiffs position in the inner sanctum and lack of recent pastoral experience.

The one reservation I might have about it is that hes part of the Roman Curia. I would have been a little more content to have someone who was more of a residential pastoral, Danielson said.

Poundstone said he felt it was important to make a distinction between the new popes ideology and his personal reputation.

Those who know the former cardinal personally praise him as a shy, gentle, humble man, Poundstone said. For all those who fear, theres grounds for hope as far as what weve heard about his character.

Antoinette Reece, a volunteer at St. Bernards Thrift Store in Tracy, said she hopes the new pope will continue much of what Pope John Paul II started.

The only thing we want him to be is open to all religions, something John Paul was, Reece said. Hopefully hell keep that up and well all be fine.

Annie Stark, visiting relatives in Tracy from Cincinnati, Ohio, said, she was happy with the selection, because she is of German ancestry, and especially his name selection.

She said she doesnt see any major changes under Pope Benedict XVI, such as allowing priests to marry, but she did think his reign would be a short one.

I hope the growth in the relationship with the Jewish people will continue, Stark said. I think he will be the one to prove that it wasnt the German people but a very sick German (behind the Holocaust.)

Manteca resident Troy Rivas said the conclave could have chosen a younger person with newer ideas and the ability to carry them out long term. He wasnt too concerned about the new popes country of origin.

As long as he does for the good of the Catholic people, it doesnt matter where he comes from or what his background is, Rivas said.

He said by being tolerant of the beliefs of other religions its only going to help the world in general.