Biography of Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith , President of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission and International Theological Commission, Dean of the
College of Cardinals, was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn
(Bavaria), Germany. He was ordained a priest on 29 June 1951.
Josef Ratzinger is born on April 16, Holy Saturday, and is baptized
that day. His father is a rural policeman.
Josef Ratzinger enrolls in the seminary in Traunstein.
Josef Ratzinger joins the Hitler Youth, as is required of all German
youth when they reach the age of 14.
Josef Ratzinger and his seminary class are drafted into an
anti-aircraft unit of the German army. He would be released the next
year and then drafted into the Austrian Legion, an infamous group that
In the Spring, Josef Ratzinger deserts the military and goes home to
Josef Ratzinger enrolls in the Herzogliches Georgianum, a theological
school in Munich.
Josef Ratzinger is ordained into the priesthood on June 29.
In July, Josef Ratzinger is awarded a doctorate in theology by the
University of Munich.
On August 23, Josef Ratzinger's father dies.
1962 - 1965
Josef Ratzinger participates in all four sessions of the Second
Vatican Council as chief theological advisor to Cardinal Josef Frings
of Cologne, Germany.
On December 16, Josef Ratzinger's mother dies.
Josef Ratzinger becomes chair of dogmatic theology at the University
of Tübingen, a position supported by his friend professor Hans Küng.
European campuses are swept up in a series of student uprisings driven
in large part by Marxist ideologies.
On March 24, Josef Ratzinger becomes Archbishop of Munich and
Freising. He would be ordained May 28.
On June 27, Josef Ratzinger is made Cardinal of Munich by Pope Paul
On November 25, Josef Ratzinger is named by Pope John Paul II as
Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Pope John Paul II names Josef Ratzinger a Cardinal Bishop of the
episcopal see of Velletri-Segni.
Josef Ratzinger is named vice-dean of the College of Cardinals.
In November, Josef Ratzinger is elected dean of the College of
Cardinals. This means that he is now also Cardinal Bishop of Ostia.
On April 19, Josef Ratzinger is elected pope and adopts the name Pope
Benedict XVI, evidently in honor of St. Benedict, founder of western
monasticism, and Pope Benedict XV, leader of the Catholic church
during World War I.
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