"... Today, the election of Ratzinger—a German and a conservative—is a clear answer to two questions asked as John Paul II slowly succumbed to Parkinson's disease. First, would the next pope's election prove comparable in geopolitical boldness to the choice of John Paul II? The news of John Paul II's election echoed with electrifying clarity from Lithuania to Croatia. The election of a Latin American, African, or even a Middle Eastern or Asian cardinal today could have equally electrified regions that are even more important to the church's future. But the cardinals chose instead to elect another European.
The second question was whether the church would liberalize its stance on sexual morality and whether, in particular, it would soon take the step of allowing artificial contraceptives—as it came close to doing in the mid-1960s, before Humanae Vitae. That 1968 encyclical reaffirmed ultraconservative sexual morality and reversed a trend toward collegiality in church government. Today, condoms have helped to slow the spread of AIDS in Brazil and elsewhere. But in Africa, where the AIDS crisis is worst, the church is identified more than ever with the most adamant opposition to the condom. Meanwhile, church governance remains more tightly centralized than ever. The election of Joseph Ratzinger announces that in both these regards—sexual morality and church governance—the status quo will remain unchanged..."