Benedict also emphasised that "Only creative reason which in the crucified God is manifested as love can really show us the way. John Paul II often credited Our Lady of Fátima for preserving him on that day. As Dean of the College of Cardinals he presided over the funeral of John Paul II and over the Mass immediately preceding the 2005 conclave in which he was elected.
Prior to becoming pope he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century" as "one of the most respected influential and controversial members of the College of Cardinals"; he had an influence "second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions" as one of Pope John Paul II's closest confidants. From 2002 until his election as pope he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals and as such the primus inter pares among the cardinals. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love.