Pope Benedict XVI

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Pope Benedict XVI

Head of the Catholic Church
In office
April 19, 2005 – February 28, 2013
Preceded by John Paul II
Succeeded by Francis

Born April 16, 1927
Marktl, Weimar Republic
Died December 31, 2022 (age 95)
Vatican City
His Holiness Benedict XVI

His Holiness Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger, born April 16, 1927, in Bavaria, Germany, died December 31, 2022 in Vatican City) was the Pope (2005-2013) of the Roman Catholic Church. He succeeded Pope John Paul II. On February 28, 2013, he resigned the papacy stating that his "strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."[1]

Conservative on most political issues, Pope Benedict was liberal on two prior to becoming pope: evolution and capital punishment. On both issues he pushed the Roman Catholic Church leftward, the former by writing a speech that Pope John Paul II gave, and the latter by unjustifiably shifting Church doctrine against use of the death penalty.

Early life

He was born in Marktl am Inn, Germany, on April 16, 1927. As a child, he lived in Traunstein where much of his philosophy developed. Ratzinger joined the Hitler Youth in 1939 - membership being required by law - but was unenthusiastic and refused to attend meetings.[2] At the end of 1944, he was drafted into the German Army and assigned to the Traustein Garrison. He deserted in April or May 1945.[2][3] Ratzinger's father opposed Nazism.


He studied at the higher School of Freising and the University of Munich, receiving a Doctor of Theology Degree in 1953.


He was ordained to the priesthood of the Catholic Church on June 29, 1951.

Appointment to the See of Munich


Pope Paul VI appointed Father Ratzinger Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freisling on March 25, 1977.


He was chosen to membership in the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI on June 27, 1977. He was thereafter known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. On November 25, 1981, Pope John Paul II named Cardinal Ratzinger "Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", one of the major Curial institutions of the Holy See.

College Positions

On November 6, 1998, Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals. On November 30, 2002, he was elected Dean.

Accession to the Papacy

His Holiness Benedict XVI p.p. on his 80th Birthday

On April 2, 2005, John Paul II passed away. Following the prescribed mourning period, the College of Cardinals was summoned to the Vatican for the Papal Conclave. Cardinal Ratzinger was widely regarded as one of the strongest candidates for election to the papacy, both for his expertise in theological matters and his reputation as a conservative. On April 19, 2005, after a prior false signal, white smoke appeared at the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signalling the election of a new pope. There were reports that several rounds of voting were needed before Ratzinger achieved the super majority that was required.

As in the past, the Cardinal Protodeacon, Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez, appeared on the balcony and proclaimed the following;

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Habemus Papam!
Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Joseph,
Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Ratzinger,
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedict XVI.

(I announce to you all a great joy:
We have a pope!
A most Eminent and Reverend Lord,
Lord Joseph,
Cardinal Ratzinger, of the Holy Roman Church,
Who has imposed a name for himself: Benedict XVI.)

Pope Benedict XVI waves to cheering crowd on his arrival to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, USA.

In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI made his first visit to the United States. He celebrated mass in Washington, D.C. in a baseball stadium and then at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick and at Yankee Stadium in New York City. During this journey he became the first pope to visit an American synagogue.

"We need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism and embrace a culture of justice and truth," said President George W. Bush in welcoming Benedict to the White House.

Social Networking

The Vatican has expressed its desire to communicate to the world's 1 billion Catholics via the internet. The Pope has created the website Pope2You with applications geared toward Facebook, its YouTube video channel, iPhone apps and WikiCath. Presentation of the message says,

Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News" of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people.


"The collapse of the Marxist-inspired governments of Europe was for this theology of redeeming political practice a kind of twilight of the gods: precisely there where the Marxist ideology of liberation had been consistently applied, a total lack of freedom had developed, whose horrors were now laid bare before the eyes of the entire world. Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic."[4]


  • Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, 2004

See also

Coat of Arms of Benedict XVI.

External links


  1. Pope Benedict XVI resigning on Feb. 28
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://bc.edu/research/cjl/meta-elements/texts/cjrelations/topics/new_pope_defied_nazis.htm
  3. Blanco, Pablo. A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger.
  4. Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions
Pope Benedict XVI, 2005.