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Biography Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
The 265th pope from 2005 to 2013 - former leader of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of the Vatican City State.


Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Biography

ENG: Benedict XVI (born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; 16 April 1927) is the Pope Emeritus of the Catholic Church. He served as the 265th pope from 2005 to 2013. In that role, he was both the leader of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of the Vatican City State. Benedict was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005. A native of Bavaria, he has both German and Vatican citizenship. His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013.

Ordained as a priest in 1951, Ratzinger established himself as a highly regarded university theologian by the late 1950s and was appointed a full professor in 1958. After a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at several German universities—the last being the University of Regensburg, where he served as Vice President of the university in 1976 and 1977—he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as Pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals, and as such the primus inter pares among the cardinals. Prior to becoming pope, he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century" as "one of the most respected, influential and controversial members of the College of Cardinals"; he had an influence "second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions" as one of Pope John Paul II's closest confidants.

He was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. His prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many Western countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love. He reaffirmed the "importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work." Pope Benedict also revived a number of traditions including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position. He renewed the relationship between the Catholic Church and art, viewing the use of beauty as a path to the sacred, promoted the use of Latin, and reintroduced traditional papal garments, for which reason he was called "the pope of aesthetics". Several of Pope Benedict's students from his academic career are also prominent churchmen today and confidantes of him, notably Christoph Schönborn.

On 11 February 2013, Pope Benedict announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a "lack of strength of mind and body". He became the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so voluntarily since Pope Celestine V in 1294. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is expected to move into the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae monastery for his retirement. As pope emeritus, he retains the style of His Holiness, and the title of Pope, and will continue to dress in the papal colour of white.


Papacy 2005–13 - Election to the papacy

On 2 January 2005, Time magazine quoted unnamed Vatican sources as saying that Ratzinger was a front runner to succeed John Paul II should the pope die or become too ill to continue as pope. On the death of John Paul II, the Financial Times gave the odds of Ratzinger becoming pope as 7–1, the lead position, but close to his rivals on the liberal wing of the church. In April 2005, before his election as pope, he was identified as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time. While Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger repeatedly stated he would like to retire to his house in the Bavarian village of Pentling near Regensburg and dedicate himself to writing books.

Though Ratzinger was increasingly considered the front runner by much of the international media, others maintained that his election was far from certain, since very few papal predictions in modern history had come true. The elections of both John Paul II and his predecessor, John Paul I had been rather unexpected. Despite being the favorite (or perhaps because he was the favorite), it was a surprise to many that he was actually elected, as traditionally the frontrunners are passed over by the conclave for someone else.

On 19 April 2005, Ratzinger was elected as the successor to Pope John Paul II on the second day of the papal conclave after four ballots. Ratzinger had hoped to retire peacefully and said that "At a certain point, I prayed to God 'please don't do this to me'...Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me." Coincidentally, 19 April is the feast of St. Leo IX, the most important German pope of the Middle Ages, known for instituting major reforms during his pontificate.

Before his first appearance at the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica after becoming pope, he was announced by Jorge Medina Estévez, Cardinal Protodeacon of the Holy Roman Church. Cardinal Medina Estévez first addressed the massive crowd as "dear(est) brothers and sisters" in Italian, Spanish, French, German and English, with each language receiving cheers from the international crowd, before continuing with the traditional Habemus Papam announcement in Latin.

At the balcony, Benedict's first words to the crowd, given in Italian before he gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing in Latin, were:

“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with insufficient instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help, let us move forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother, will be on our side. Thank you.”

On 24 April, he celebrated the Papal Inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square, during which he was invested with the Pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman. Then, on 7 May, he took possession of his cathedral church, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.


Choice of name

Ratzinger chose the pontifical name Benedict, which comes from the Latin word meaning "the blessed", in honour of both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia. Pope Benedict XV was Pope during the First World War, during which time he passionately pursued peace between the warring nations. St. Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the Benedictine monasteries (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of the Benedictine order) and the author of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is still the most influential writing regarding the monastic life of Western Christianity.

The pope explained his choice of name during his first General Audience in St. Peter's Square, on 27 April 2005:

“Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples. Additionally, I recall Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our thoughts and actions!"



Prior to his election as Pope in 2005, Ratzinger had hoped to retire—on account of age-related health problems, a long-held desire to have free time to write, and the retirement age for bishops (75)—and submitted his resignation as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith three times, but continued at his post in obedience to the wishes of Pope John Paul II. In September 1991, Ratzinger suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which slightly impaired his eyesight temporarily but he recovered completely. This was never officially made public—the official news was that Ratzinger had fallen and struck his head against a radiator—but was an open secret known to the Conclave that elected him Pope.

Since his election in April 2005 there were several rumors about the Pope's health, but none of them was confirmed. Early in his pontificate Benedict XVI predicted a short reign, which led to concerns about his health. In May 2005 the Vatican announced that he had suffered another mild stroke. French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin said that since the first stroke Ratzinger had been suffering from an age-related heart condition, for which he was on medication. In late November 2006 Vatican insiders told the international press that the Pope had had a routine examination of the heart. A few days later an unconfirmed rumor emerged that Pope Benedict had undergone an operation in preparation for an eventual bypass operation, but this rumor was only published by a small left-wing Italian newspaper and was never confirmed by any Vatican insider.

On 17 July 2009 Benedict was hospitalized after falling and breaking his right wrist while on vacation in the Alps; his injuries were reported to be minor.

Following the announcement of his resignation, the Vatican revealed that Pope Benedict had been fitted with a pacemaker while he was still a cardinal, before his election as pope in 2005. The battery in the pacemaker had been replaced three months earlier, a routine procedure, but that did not influence the decision.



On 11 February 2013, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Benedict would resign the papacy on 28 February 2013, as a result of his advanced age, becoming the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. The move was considered unexpected. In modern times, all popes have stayed in office until death. Benedict is the first Pope to have resigned without external pressure since Pope Celestine V in 1294.

In a statement, Benedict cited his deteriorating strength and the physical and mental demands of the papacy; addressing his Cardinals in Latin, Benedict gave a brief statement announcing his resignation. He also declared that he would continue to serve the church "through a life dedicated to prayer".

According to a statement from the Vatican, the timing of the resignation was not caused by any specific illness but was to "avoid that exhausting rush of Easter engagements". According to the Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi, Pope Benedict XVI will leave Vatican City after his resignation for the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. After its adaption he will reside at the monastery Mater Ecclesiae located in the Vatican Gardens.



Paul Collins suggested that the elevation of the Pope's personal assistant, Georg Gänswein, to Archbishop in early December 2012 (he was ordained as Bishop on 6 January 2013) was an indication of the impending resignation of Benedict XVI.


Pope Emeritus

On the morning of February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict met with the full college of Cardinals, and in the early afternoon flew by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, where he waited for his resignation to take effect. There he will stay until after the conclave to elect a successor completes its task. Afterwards he will return to the Vatican, where a former nunnery will serve as a retirement home.

After his resignation, Benedict XVI retains his papal name rather than reverting to usage of his birth name, Joseph Ratzinger. He is known as His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope emeritus. Regarding clothing and apparel, Benedict XVI continues to wear white garments, but without the cape that covers the shoulders. He also ceased wearing red papal shoes. Benedict XVI will also give up his Fisherman's Ring, which is usually destroyed by Vatican officials on the event of the death of a pope to prevent counterfeit documents. Traditionally the ring for the next pope is made from the same gold.





March 1,2013

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