By MELISSA EDDY
(AP) TRAUNSTEIN, Germany - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has alienated some Roman Catholics in Germany with his zeal enforcing church orthodoxy. But in the conservative Alpine foothills of Bavaria where he grew up, he remains a favorite son who many think would make a good pope.
Ratzinger, a rigorously conservative guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy who turns 78 on Saturday, is considered a leading candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II at the conclave that begins Monday.
"Only someone who knows tradition is able to shape the future," said the Rev. Thomas Frauenlob, who heads the seminary in Traunstein where Ratzinger studied and regularly returns to visit.
But opinion about him remains deeply divided in Germany, a sharp contrast to John Paul, who was revered in his native Poland. A recent poll for Der Spiegel news weekly showed Germans opposed to him becoming pope outnumbered supporters 36 percent to 29 percent. Another 17 percent didn't care. The poll of 1,000 people, taken April 5-7, gave no margin of error.
Many blame Ratzinger for decrees from Rome barring Catholic priests from counseling pregnant teens on their options and blocking German Catholics from sharing communion with their Lutheran brethren at a joint gathering in 2003.
Ratzinger has clashed with prominent theologians at home, most notably the liberal Hans Kueng, who helped him get a teaching post at the University of Tuebingen in the 1960s. The cardinal later publicly criticized Kueng, whose license to teach theology was revoked by the Vatican in 1979. . . .