Today, our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI celebrates his 86th birthday! Please join us in offering up prayers for him, his health and his intentions. In order to honor his birthday, we thought it would be helpful for you to get to know him a bit better.
Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, Holy Saturday. Baptized the same day, he grew up feeling close to the Church in many ways. His years growing up in Germany were not always easy. He watched the brutalities of the Nazi regime, especially towards to Catholic Church. On more than one occasion, he witnessed the beating of the parish priest before he was allowed to celebrate the Mass.
He first entered the seminary in 1939. During the last months of World War II, he was drafted into the auxiliary anti-aircraft corps. Upon the completion of the war, he returned to his schooling, studying philosophy and theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1951. He began teaching at the Higher School of Freising.
In 1953, he received his doctorate in theology. Four years later qualified for University teaching, and he began lecturing on dogmatic and fundamental theology. During this time, he also became a notable contributor to Vatican II, serving as the theological advisor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, the Archbishop of Cologne.
On March 25, 1977, he was named the Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI; he received his episcopal ordination on May 28. On June 27 of the same year, he was made a Cardinal. In August and October of 1978, he took part in the Conclaves that elected both Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II.
Upon being named the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission in November of 1981, he resigned as Archbishop. From 1986-1992, he was President of the Preparatory Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church; when work was completed, he presented the new Catechism to the Holy Father.
Throughout John Paul II’s papacy, Cardinal Ratzinger served many different positions throughout the Roman Curia. He also wrote extensively, publishing many times throughout the years. Above all, he was always working to teach and spread the Catholic faith.
Following the death and funeral of John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger presided over the Conclave to elect the next Holy Father. On April 19, 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger was chosen to be the 265th Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He chose the name Benedict, becoming Pope Benedict XVI.
Photos, letters, homilies and more on our dear Pope Emeritus at the Vatican website!