- Joseph Alois Ratzinger
Son of a police officer from Lower Bavaria, Germany. In 1929 his family moved to Tittmoning, but after his anti-Nazi father get into trouble with locals, they moved to Traunstein in 1932. In 1941, at age 14, Joseph was required to join the Hitler Youth, but never attended any meetings. In 1943, at age 16, he was drafted into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service, but apparently never fired a shot. In 1944 he was released from that unit, but immediately drafted into a forced labor gang, and forced to dig anti-tank trenches. After a few months he was released, but was almost immediately drafted into the regular army. Joseph completed basic training, but in 1945 he deserted rather than kill anyone, having apparently never fired a shot. Captured by the Americans, he spent time in an Allied prisoner of war camp. After the war he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at Freising from 1946 to 1951. Ordained, along with his brother Georg, on 29 June 1951 in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Germany.
Teacher. Earned his doctorate in theology in 1953. University professor in 1957, teaching dogma and fundamental theology in Freising (1957 to 1959), the University of Bonn (1959 to 1969), Münster (1963 to 1966), and the University of Tübinga (1966 to 1969). Worked with the theologian Hans Kung, but when he saw that the liberals were approaching Marxism, Joseph became a firm traditionalist. Professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg in 1969. Vice President of the University of Regensburg. Theology consultor at Vatican II to Cardinal Joseph Frings, 1962 to 1965. One of the founders of the theological periodical Communio. Archbishop of Munich and Freising on 28 May 1977. Created cardinal on 27 June 1977 by Pope Paul VI. Relator of the Fifth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1980. Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 25 November 1981. President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. President of the International Theological Commission. President Delegate to the Sixth Synodal Assembly of Bishops in 1983. President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1986 to 1992). Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, 6 November 1998. Honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 13 November 2000. Dean of the College of Cardinals on 30 November 2002. 265th pope.
Dear brothers and sisters, after the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard. I am comforted by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments. And above all, I entrust myself to your prayers. With the joy of the risen Lord and confidence in His constant help, we will go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary, His most holy mother, will be alongside us. – Pope Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi blessing at his ascension to the papacy
- “Pope Benedict XVI“. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 February 2013. Web. 3 June 2015. <>