A Short Biography of Pope Benedict XVI
By Bianca M. Caraza
Growing up in Germany proved difficult for young Joseph, who suffered from the broken German economy and joblessness in the post World War I era, and then through the travesties of World War II. It was only after the second war that Ratzinger was free to follow his true calling. He was ordained a catholic priest in 1951.The man we know today as Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Catholic Church, was born Joseph Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, in Baviaria, Germany on April 16, 1927. His father was a policeman and, before getting married, his mother worked as a hotel cook. He grew up just outside of Austria, not thirty kilometers from Salzberg, where Mozart, now one of his favorite musicians, lived and worked.
In 1957, Ratzinger became a professor of theology and dogma. According to the Vatican’s biography of his life, after receiving his doctorate of theology, he began teaching at the University of Bonn in 1959, and then the University of Munster not five years later. He moved on to the University of Regensburg where he held the Chair of dogmatics and history of dogma in addition to acting as the University’s vice-president.
He worked closely with Cardinal Joseph Frings as theological expert and advisor during the Second Vatican Council
(Vatican II, 1963—65). In 1977, he became Archbishop of Munich and Freising and then Cardinal later that same year. In 1978, Cardinal Ratzinger took part in the Conclave which elected Pope John Paul I, and, later that year, Pope John Paul II. In 1992, he presented the new Catechism to the Holy Father after six years of work as president of the Preparatory Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in 1993 the Holy Father elevated him to the Order of Bishops. In 2002, his Eminence was promoted from vice-dean to dean of the College of Cardinals. Due to his mastery of theology and his popularity, especially with Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger appeared to be a frontrunner for the papacy in 2005.
His holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has led an extraordinary life leading up to and including his papacy. Not only is he known for his strong traditionalist stance on the doctrines of the church, but his career as a strong academic and theologian, and even (according to many sources, including Los Angeles’ beloved Cardinal Mahoney), being a cat lover known to care for hungry strays.
This year, Image will have the honor of publishing his holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s latest book on Jesus’ childhood—Jesus of Nazareth. Read more here on the Image website and pre-order your copy today.