Pope Benedict XVI
was the seventh German pontiff in the history
of the Catholic Church. He was elected in 2005 by the conclave following the death of John Paul II
and served as pope until his resignation at the begining of 2013.
He was born in a Catholic family of farmers in Lower Bavaria
, Germany, but grew up in a little town at the border with Austria.
After passing the harsh times of Second World War
, during which is was forcefully enrolled
in an auxiliary anti-aircraft corps until September 1944, in 1946 he studied philosophy and theology at Higher School of Philosophy and Theology
of Freising and at the University of Munich. In 1951, at the age of 24, he was ordered priest
By the end of the ‘50s he was already a renowned theologian in the academic world and in 1958 he was nominated full professor. It followed an esteemed career as a professor of theology
at the most eminent German universities. Due to his notable scientific activity he was called to attend the Vatican Council II with the role of “expert”
from 1962 to 1965: at this watershed event he was indeed the theological advisor of Cardinal Joseph Frings, Archbishop of Cologne. His career culminated with meaningful promotions
far beyond the academic context: in 1977 Pope Paul VI named him firstly Archbishop of Munich and Freising
, and subsequently cardinal
.Under Pope John Paul II
he covered increasingly important roles in the Catholic Church: in 1981 he was elected Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (for centuries a top dicastery in the Roman Curia)
and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission. He resigned from his pastoral assignment in Germany and moved to Rome
. In 1993
the John Paul II appointed him a bishop
He covered several primary roles during the following decade until he was elected as pope, such as from 2002 that of Dean of the College of Cardinals, the most honorable position among the cardinals.
Before becoming Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger was one of the most influential personalities in the Catholic Church
, a reference point for anything related to Church priorities and directions; notably, he was also one of the closest confidants of Pope John Paul II
.On 11 February 2013, Benedict announced his resignation
in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, due to a "lack of strength of mind and body"
to be connected to his old age. His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013. From then he is entitled Pope Emeritus, retaining the honorific “His Holiness” and the white color papal attire. On March 13th 2013 Jorge Mario Bergoglio rose to the papacy with the name of Francis I, while Joseph Ratzinger moved to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery for his retirement
on 2 May 2013.He is the eighth pope to give up the pontifical ministry
, if we consider only the cases ascertained by reliable historical sources, the last case being recorded in 1415.