POPE BENEDICT XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

The Pontiff's Life

~ Pope Benedict XVI

Brief History

Joseph Ratzinger was born in rural Bavaria on Holy Saturday in 1927 and was baptized that same day. In 1929, young Joseph's family moved to Tittmoning, a small town on the Salzach River, on the Austrian border.

Joseph Ratzinger in 1932 His father retired from the police force in 1937, and his family moved to Hufschlag, outside of Traunstein. There Joseph began studying classical languages at the local gymnasium or high school. In 1939, he entered the minor seminary in Traunstein, his first step toward the priesthood.

His seminary training was interrupted by World War II when he was drafted into the German army. He later deserted and was briefly detained in an American POW camp. In 1947, he entered the Herzogliches Georgianum, a theological institute associated with the University of Munich. Finally, on 29 June 1951, both Josef and his brother, Georg, were ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Faulhaber, in the Cathedral at Freising, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

Joseph Ratzinger earned a doctorate in theology at the University of Munich in 1953, , with a thesis entitled “The People and House of God in Augustine's doctrine of the Church.”.

He fulfilled a requirement for teaching at the university level by completing a book-length treatise on Bonaventure’s theology of history and revelation. On 15 April 1959, he began lectures as a full professor of fundamental theology at the University of Bonn.

From 1962 to 1965, during the Second Vatican Council, Ratzinger served as the theological advisor for Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne, Germany. Joseph Ratzinger in 1932

In 1963, he began teaching at the University of Münster, taking, in 1966, a second chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen. A wave of student uprisings swept across Europe in 1968, and Marxism quickly became the dominant intellectual system at Tübingen. He had no sympathy with the new radical theology, so in 1969 he moved back to Bavaria and took a teaching position at the University of Regensburg. There, he eventually became dean and vice president. He was also a member of the International Theological Commission of the Holy See from 1969 until 1980. On 24 March 1977, Fr. Ratzinger was elected Archbishop of Munich and was elevated to the College of Cardinals later that year by Pope Paul VI. In 1981.

Pope John Paul II appointed him to be prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy See’s top theological post.One of his greatest achievements has been working with some forty collaborators and a thousand bishops to produce the 900-page Catechism of the Catholic Church. On 5 April 1993, he was transferred to the order of Cardinal Bishops, with the suburbicarian See of Velletri-Signi. On 9 November 1998, his election as Vice-Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals was approved by Pope John Paul II, and the Holy Father approved his election as Dean of the College of Cardinals on 30 November 2002, with the title of the suburbicarian See of Ostia added to that of Velletri-Segni.

As Dean of the College he has presided over the College's deliberations in General Congregation during the Vacancy of the Holy See, after the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005. In the same capacity he presided at the Solemn Funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II at 10 a.m. 8 April 2005 in St. Peter's Square, and the Mass For the Election of the Supreme Pontiff celebrated by the College of Cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at 10 a.m. on Monday 18 April 2005.

On the 19th of April 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. On Sunday, 24 April 2005, at 10 a.m. he celebrated the Mass for the Inauguration of his pontificate in St. Peter's Square, receiving the Pallium and the Fisherman's Ring at that liturgical celebration. His inauguration as new Pope took place on the 24th of April 2005