Benedict the XVI

Pope Benedict XVI was born on the 16th of April 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany. He was the youngest of his two other brothers. The Pope’s real name was Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger. Benedict the Pope’s father (Joseph Ratzinger, Sr.) was a policeman and his mother (Maria Ratzinger) was a cook at a hotel. He attended the elementary school in Aschau am Inn, which was renamed in his honour in 2009.

Benedict the 16th was grew up at a time when World war II was rampant. During his early life he was a member of the Hitler Youth. This was during the time in which membership in the Hitler Youth Movement was mandatory. After World war II Benedict the 16th started his theological studies.

Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI in Rome

In 1959, Ratzinger became a professor at the University of Bonn. He moved to the University of Munster in 1963. Ratzinger participated actively in the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965. He also served as a theological consultant to Cardinal Frings of Cologne. Before being elected as a Pope, Ratzinger was seen a reformer, cooperating with theologians such as Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Kung. Ratzinger was appointed to a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tubingen in 1966. He wrote a book “Introduction to Christianity” in 1968 where he wrote that the Pope has a duty to listen to differing voices before making any decision on the matter being debated.

Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising on the 24th of March 1977. He was named Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino by Pope Paul VI. Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was formerly known as the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, on the 25th of November 1981. In 1997, Ratzinger asked Pope John Paul II for permission to leave the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and to become an archivist in the Vatican Secret Archives and also a librarian in the Vatican Library. However, the Pope did not Permit this.

After the death of Pope John Paul II, Ratzinger was elected as Pope. He was elected on the 19th of April 2005 on the second day of the conclave after four ballots. In April 2005 just before the election, Ratzinger was identified as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, by Times magazine. He chose the pontifical name Benedict which means “the blessed”, in honor of both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia. He then served as the Pope from April 2005 to February 2013 when he resigned.

There were a lot of rumors surrounding the resignation of Pope Benedict the 16th but the Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi stated that the Pope had the right to resign and that his resignation was not a result of any external pressure. The reason for his resignation was deterioration of his health. Pope Benedict XVI stepped down on the 28th of February 2013. The resignation then led to a papal conclave which resulted in Pope Francis I being elected as the new Pope.