He asserted that, given that Benedict has named many conservative cardinals, it would be hard to find someone "who could lead the church out of its many-layered crisis."
Unlike Polish-born predecessor John Paul II, Benedict hasn't enjoyed undivided admiration in his country, which is roughly evenly split between Catholics and Protestants and where many didn't appreciate his conservative approach. The day after he was elected in 2005, best-selling newspaper Bild's front page screamed "We are the Pope!," but the left-leaning Tageszeitung countered with the headline "Oh, my God!"
"The papacy of Pope Benedict XVI was a missed opportunity," said Volker Beck, an openly gay lawmaker with the opposition Greens. "Under him, the church in some cases fell back behind the innovations of the Second Vatican Council," the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world.
Still, the pope commanded pride in Germany — particularly in his native Bavaria, where Gov. Horst Seehofer said: "Germany and Bavaria have an infinite amount to thank him for."
Even Germany's leading soccer authority weighed in — Franz Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup both as player and coach.
"It's a pity for the Catholic church," Beckenbauer wrote on Twitter. "He was the best pope for me, which I experienced. I appreciate him very much."
David Rising contributed to this story.