Pope Benedict XVI real name is Joseph Alois Ratzinger. He was born on 16th April 1927 at Marktl am Inn in Germany. He has been a bishop of Rome. Also, he was the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the year 2005 to 2013. Before his election as pope, was working as a theologian, and also as a prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
His leadership underwent many challenges. This included declining the vocations and attendance of the church. Moreover, there were debates about the direction of the church that had divided emotions. Also, there were scandals at the beginning of the late 1990s. These were concerning how the church handled the very many cases of abuse sexually by priests. In the year 2013, he resigned as he gave reasons for being old. This made him the first pope to resign from Gregory XII in the year 1415.
The early life of Pope Benedict XVI
He was born to a father who was a policeman while his mother worked as a cook in a hotel. He was the last born in a family of three children. His parents had a very strong faith and staunch Roman Catholic members. Therefore, this led to him joining the seminary at an early age in the year 1939. In the year 1941, he was forced to join the Hitler Youth.
This led to his selection into the German military in 1943. Here he was serving at an antiaircraft unit in Bavaria. Later in 1945, he was transferred to Hungary where he was to set tank traps. In April of the same year, he escaped from his duties. However, he was arrested by American forces and led to prison for a short period.
When the war was over, he went back to the seminary for a continuation of his learning. In the year 1951 June, he was ordained as a priest. In 1953, the University of Munich awarded him with a doctorate in theology. He got a teaching license in the year 1957. This enabled him to teach dogma and theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology in Freising up to 1959. Between 1959 and 1969, he worked at the University of Bonn, Universities in Munster, and Tubingen. He left in 1969 for the University of Regensburg where he got the duties of a vice president.
While studying, he wrote so many theological works such as Introduction to Christianity in 1968, and Dogma and Revelation in 1973. Between 1962 and 1965, he served as an expert assistant to Joseph Frings at the Second Vatican Council. He also took part in writing the document that criticized the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office which led to its reorganization by Pope Paul VI between 1963 to 1978.
On 25th November 1981, he was chosen as a prefect of the Congregation to the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II. In his early years of service, Benedict has gone to many countries. These included Turkey a place where he met with the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople with the hope to improve the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. He gave some guidelines that would allow greater use of Latin mass.
In January 2009, he took a controversial decision to revoke the ex-communications of 4 bishops who had been consecrated in the year 1988. In November of the same year, he approved an apostolic constitution that allowed Anglican clergymen to join the Roman Catholic Church and still maintain Anglican traditions.
However, in 2010, he was caught by allegations of sexual and physical abuse by priests and parochial schools. These allegations were said to be particularly in countries such as Germany, Ireland, and United States. The cases brought him under media scrutiny. He later wrote a pastoral letter rebuking bishops to the Irish church. He wrote that they were failing in leadership. The Vatican also publically declared it as false and defamatory.
On February 2013, he announced his resignation which was to happen at the end of that month, whereby he cited old age and health concerns as his reasons. This was made at St. Peter’s Square which drew over 50,000 people at the place.
Death of Pope Benedict
Pope Benedict XVI was declared dead at the age of 95 years on 31st December 2022. It was reported;
“With sorrow, I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” a spokesperson said.
“As of Monday morning, 2 January 2023, the body of the Pope Emeritus will be in Saint Peter’s Basilica so the faithful can bid farewell.”