But Ratzinger is not "conservative" on certain issues. For example, on the issue of evolution, Ratzinger has a book titled "In the beginning--: a Catholic understanding of the story of Creation and the fall."
You can see the direction that the book takes from pp. 3-4:
These words, with which Holy Scripture begins, always have the effect on me of the solemn tolling of a great old bell, which stirs the heart from afar with its beauty and dignity and gives it an inkling of the mystery of eternity. For many of us, moreover, these words recall the memory of our first encounter with God’s holy book, the Bible, which was opened for us at this spot. It at once brought us out of our small child’s world, captivated us with its poetry, and gave us a feeling for the immeasurability of creation and its Creator.It is probably not surprising to find the following statements on p. 50:
Yet these words give rise to a certain conflict. They are beautiful and familiar, but are they also true? Everything seems to speak against it, for science has long since disposed of the concepts that we have just now heard – the idea of a world that is completely comprehensible in terms of space and time, and the idea that creation was built up piece by piece over the course of seven days. Instead of this we now face measurements that transcend all comprehension. Today we hear of the Big Bang, which happened billions of years ago and with which the universe began its expansion – an expansion that continues to occur without interruption. And it was not in neat succession that the stars were hung and the green of the fields created; it was rather in complex ways and over vast periods of time that the earth and the universe were constructed as we now know them.
Do these words, then, count for anything? In fact a theologian said not long ago that creation has now become an unreal concept. If one is to be intellectually honest one ought to speak no longer of creation but rather of mutation and selection. Are these words true? Or have they, perhaps, along with the entire Word of God and the whole biblical tradition, come out of the reveries of the infant age of human history, for which occasionally experience homesickness but to which we can nevertheless not return, inasmuch as we cannot live on nostalgia? Is there an answer to this that we can claim for ourselves in this day and age?
We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch as these two things respond to two different realities. ... But let us look closer, because here, too, the progress of thought in the last two decades helps us to grasp anew the inner unity of creation and evolution and of faith and reason.Thus is it not surprising that a conference on origins held in Rome would exclude creationism and intelligent design (see this report or this report - both from the so-called Catholic News Agency).
Ratzinger/Benedict XVI a conservative? Only in relative terms.