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Pope Benedict XVI

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI ( (Any dialect of the language of ancient Rome) Latin: Benedictus XVI) was born Joseph Alois Ratzinger (in German Josef) on April 16, 1927 in (A state in southwestern Germany famous for its beer; site of an automobile factory) Bavaria, (A republic in central Europe; split into East German and West Germany after World War II and reunited in 1990) Germany. He is the (Royal authority; the dominion of a monarch) reigning 265th (The head of the Roman Catholic Church) pope, serving as the bishop of (Capital and largest city of Italy; on the Tiber; seat of the Roman Catholic Church; formerly the capital of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire) Rome, (Any of the early Biblical characters regarded as fathers of the human race) Patriarch of the West, head of the (The Christian Church based in the Vatican and presided over by a pope and an episcopal hierarchy) Roman Catholic Church and (A nation's ruler or head of state usually by hereditary right) sovereign of (The capital of the State of the Vatican City) Vatican City. He was elected on April 19, 2005, in the papal conclave which he presided over in his capacity as Dean of the College of Cardinals. He was formally papal inauguration Mass on April 24, 2005.

Pope Benedict was elected at the age of 78. He was the oldest person to be elected pope since Clement XII in 1730. He served longer as a ((Roman Catholic Church) one of a group of more than 100 prominent bishops in the Sacred College who advise the Pope and elect new Popes) cardinal before being elected pope than any pope since Benedict XIII (elected 1724). He is the eighth pope to come from (A republic in central Europe; split into East German and West Germany after World War II and reunited in 1990) Germany, the last being Adrian VI (1522–1523), but only the third from the territory of present-day Germany, the last being Pope Victor II (1055–1057). The last Pope Benedict, Benedict XV, was an (A native or inhabitant of Italy) Italian who served as pope from 1914 to 1922 and reigned during (A war between the allies (Russia, France, British Empire, Italy, United States, Japan, Rumania, Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Montenegro) and the central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria) from 1914 to 1918) World War I.

Ratzinger had a distinguished career as a university (Someone who is learned in theology or who speculates about theology (especially Christian theology)) theologian before being made Archbishop of Munich and Freising; he was subsequently made a ((Roman Catholic Church) one of a group of more than 100 prominent bishops in the Sacred College who advise the Pope and elect new Popes) Cardinal by Pope Paul VI in the (A church tribunal or governing body) consistory of June 27, 1977. He was appointed (A chief officer or chief magistrate) prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and was made Cardinal Bishop of the Suburbicarian Church of Velletri-Segni on April 5, 1993. In 1998, he was made Sub-Dean of the ((Roman Catholic Church) the body of cardinals who advise the Pope and elect new Popes) College of Cardinals; later, on November 30, 2002, he became the ((Roman Catholic Church) the head of the College of Cardinals) Dean and Cardinal Bishop of the Suburbicarian Church of Ostia, La Candelaria. He was the first Dean of the College elected Pope since Pope Paul IV in 1555 and the first Cardinal Bishop elected Pope since Pope Pius VIII in 1829.

Before becoming pope, Cardinal Ratzinger was already one of the most influential men in the (The residence of the Catholic Pope in the Vatican City) Vatican, and was a close associate of the late Pope John Paul II. He presided over the funeral of Pope John Paul and also over the 2005 conclave in which he himself was elected. He was the public face of the church in much of the sede vacante, although he ranked below the Camerlengo in administrative authority during that time.

Benedict XVI's views appear to be similar to those of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in maintaining the traditional Catholic (A belief system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school) doctrines on (Limiting the number of children born) birth control, (Termination of pregnancy) abortion, and (A sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) persons of the same sex) homosexuality and promoting Catholic social teaching.

Benedict speaks several languages, including (A person of German nationality) German, (The Romance language spoken in most of Spain and the countries colonized by Spain) Spanish, (A native or inhabitant of Italy) Italian, (An Indo-European language belonging to the West Germanic branch; the official language of Britain and the United States and most of the Commonwealth countries) English and (Any dialect of the language of ancient Rome) Latin. He is also fluent in (The Romance language spoken in France and in countries colonized by France) French and has been an associate member of the French Académie des sciences morales et politiques since 1992. He plays the (A stringed instrument that is played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike tuned strings and produce sounds) piano and has a preference for (The music of Mozart) Mozart and (The music of Beethoven) Beethoven. He is also known for his fondness for cats. His former car, sold on eBay, earned a lucky owner a fortune.

Early life (1927–1951)
Background and childhood (1927–1943)
Joseph Alois Ratzinger was born on (The Saturday before Easter; the last day of Lent) Holy Saturday, at Schulstrasse 11, his parents' home in Marktl am Inn, (A state in southwestern Germany famous for its beer; site of an automobile factory) Bavaria. He was the third and youngest child of (Click link for more info and facts about Joseph Ratzinger, Sr.) Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., a police officer, and his wife, Maria Ratzinger (nee Riger), who worked as a barmaid, and whose family were from South Tyrol (today part of (A republic in southern Europe on the Italian Peninsula; was the core of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD) Italy). His father served in both the Bavarian State Police and the German national Regular Police before retiring in 1937 to the town of Traunstein. The Sunday Times of (The capital and largest city of England; located on the Thames in southeastern England; financial and industrial and cultural center) London described the elder Ratzinger as "an anti-Nazi whose attempts to rein in Hitler’s Brown Shirts forced the family to move several times." According to the International Herald Tribune, these relocations were directly related to Joseph Ratzinger, Sr.'s continued resistance to Nazism, which resulted in demotions and transfers. The pope's brother Georg said: "Our father was a bitter enemy of Nazism because he believed it was in conflict with our faith." .

His brother, Georg, who also became a priest as well as a musician and medievalist, is still living. His sister, Maria Ratzinger, who never married, managed her brother Joseph's household until her death in 1991. Their grand uncle Georg Ratzinger was a priest and member of the Reichstag, as the German Parliament was called then. The future pope's relatives agree that his ambitions to reside in the upper echelons of the Church were apparent since childhood. At five years old, Ratzinger was in a group of children who presented the (A bishop of highest rank) archbishop of (The capital and largest city of Bavaria in southeastern Germany) Munich with flowers; later that day he announced he wanted to be a cardinal. Early life of Pope Benedict XVI.

When Ratzinger turned 14 he joined the Hitler Youth, membership of which was legally required from March 25, 1939. According to the National Catholic Reporter correspondent and biographer John Allen, Ratzinger was an unenthusiastic member who refused to attend meetings. Ratzinger has mentioned that a Nazi mathematics professor arranged reduced tuition payments for him at seminary. This normally required documentation of attendance at Hitler Youth activities; however, according to Ratzinger, his professor arranged so that he did not need to attend to receive a scholarship.

Military service (1943–1945)
In 1943, when he was 16, Ratzinger was drafted with many of his classmates into the (A slick spokesperson who can turn any criticism to the advantage of their employer) FlaK anti-aircraft (Large but transportable armament artillery corps). They were posted first to Ludwigsfeld, north of Munich, as part of a detachment responsible for guarding a BMW aircraft engine plant. Next they were sent to Unterföhring, northwest of (The capital and largest city of Bavaria in southeastern Germany) Munich, and briefly to (City in southwestern Austria; known as a summer and winter resort) Innsbruck. From Innsbruck their unit went to Gilching to protect the jet fighter base and to attack Allied bombers as they massed to begin their runs towards Munich. At Gilching, Ratzinger served in a telephone communications post.

On September 10, 1944, his class was released from the Corps. Returning home, Ratzinger had already received a new draft notice for the Reichsarbeitsdienst. He was posted to the (A native or inhabitant of Hungary) Hungarian border area of (A mountainous republic in central Europe; under the Habsburgs (1278-1918) Austria maintained control of the Holy Roman Empire and was a leader in European politics until the 19th century) Austria, which had been annexed by Germany in the Anschluss of 1938. Here he was trained in the "cult of the spade" and when Hungary was occupied by the Red Army, Ratzinger was put to work setting up anti-tank defences in preparation for the expected Red Army offensive. While there, he saw Jews being herded to death camps. On November 20, 1944, his unit was released from service.

Ratzinger again returned home. After three weeks passed, he was drafted into the German army at Munich and assigned to the infantry barracks in the center of Traunstein, the city near which his family lived. After basic infantry training, Ratzinger served at various posts around the city with his unit. They were never sent to the front.

In late April or early May, days or weeks before the German surrender, Ratzinger deserted. (Withdrawing support or help despite allegiance or responsibility) Desertion was widespread during the last weeks of the war, even though punishable by death (executions, frequently extrajudicial, continued to the end); diminished morale and the greatly diminished risk of prosecution from a preoccupied and disorganized German military contributed to the growing wave of soldiers looking toward self-preservation. On his way home he ran into soldiers on guard, but they let him go.

When the Americans arrived in the village, "I was identified as a soldier, had to put back on the uniform I had already abandoned, had to raise my hands and join the steadily growing throng of war prisoners whom they were lining up on our meadow. It especially cut my good mother's heart to see her boy and the rest of the defeated army standing there, exposed to an uncertain fate..." Ratzinger was briefly interned in a prisoner-of-war camp near Ulm and was released on June 19, 1945. He and another young man began to walk the 120 km (75 miles) home but got a lift to Traunstein in a milk truck. The family was reunited when his brother, Georg, returned after being released from a prisoner-of-war camp in Italy.

Education (1946–1951)
After he was repatriated in 1945, he and his brother entered a Catholic seminary in Freising, and then studied at the Herzogliches Georgianum of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. According to an interview with Peter Seewald, he and his fellow students were particularly influenced by the works of Gertrud von le Fort, Ernst Wiechert, (Russian novelist who wrote of human suffering with humor and psychological insight (1821-1881)) Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Elisabeth Langgässer, Theodor Steinbüchel, (German philosopher whose views on human existence in a world of objects and on Angst influenced the existential philosophers (1889-1976)) Martin Heidegger and (German psychiatrist (1883-1969)) Karl Jaspers. The young Ratzinger saw the last three in particular as a break with the dominance of Neo-Kantianism, with the key work being Steinbüchel's Die Wende des Denkens (The Change in Thinking). By the end of his studies he was drawn more to the active Saint Augustine than to ((Roman Catholic Church) Italian theologian and Doctor of the Church who is remembered for his attempt to reconcile faith and reason in a comprehensive theology; presented philosophical proofs of the existence of God (1225-1274)) Thomas Aquinas, and among the scholastics he was more interested in Saint Bonaventure.

On June 29, 1951, he and his brother were ordained by Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber of (The capital and largest city of Bavaria in southeastern Germany) Munich. His dissertation (1953) was on Saint Augustine, entitled "The People and the House of God in Augustine's Doctrine of the Church," and his Habilitationsschrift (a dissertation which serves as qualification for a professorship) was on Saint Bonaventure. It was completed in 1957 and he became a professor of Freising college in 1958.

Early church career (1951–1981)Ratzinger became a professor at the University of Bonn in 1959; his inaugural lecture was on "The God of Faith and the God of Philosophy." In 1963 he moved to the University of Münster, where his inaugural lecture was given in a packed lecture hall, as he was already well known as a theologian. At the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), Ratzinger served as a peritus or theological consultant to Josef Cardinal Frings of (A commercial center and river port in western Germany on the Rhine River; flourished during the 15th century as a member of the Hanseatic League) Cologne, Germany, and has continued to defend the council, including Nostra Aetate, the document on respect of other religions and the declaration of the right to religious freedom. He was viewed during the time of the council as a reformer. (Later, as the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger most clearly spelled out the Catholic Church's position on other religions in the document Dominus Iesus (2000) which also talks about the proper way to engage in ecumenical dialogue.)

In 1966, he took a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen, where he was a colleague of Hans Küng. In his 1968 book Introduction to Christianity, he wrote that the pope has a duty to hear differing voices within the church before making a decision, and downplayed the centrality of the papacy. He also wrote that the church of the time was too centralized, rule-bound and overly controlled from Rome. These sentences, however, did not appear in later editions of the book. During this time, he distanced himself from the atmosphere of Tübingen and the (An advocate of Marxism) Marxist leanings of the student movement of the (The decade from 1960 to 1969) 1960s, that in Germany quickly radicalised in the years 1967 and 1968, culminating in a series of disturbances and riots in April and May 1968. Ratzinger came increasingly to see these and associated developments (decreasing respect for authority among his students, the rise of the German gay rights movement) as related to a departure from traditional Catholic teachings. Increasingly, his views, despite his reformist bent, contrasted with those liberal ideas gaining currency in the theological academy. In 1969 he returned to Bavaria, to the University of Regensburg.

In 1972, he founded the theological journal Communio with Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper and others. Communio, now published in seventeen editions ( (A person of German nationality) German, (An Indo-European language belonging to the West Germanic branch; the official language of Britain and the United States and most of the Commonwealth countries) English, (The Romance language spoken in most of Spain and the countries colonized by Spain) Spanish and many others), has become one of the most important (A record book as a physical object) journals of Catholic thought. He remains one of the journal's most prolific contributors.

In March 1977 Ratzinger was named (A bishop of highest rank) archbishop of (The capital and largest city of Bavaria in southeastern Germany) Munich and Freising. According to his autobiography, Milestones, he took as his episcopal motto Cooperatores Veritatis, co-workers of the Truth, from 3 John 8.

In the (A church tribunal or governing body) consistory of June 1977 he was named a ((Roman Catholic Church) one of a group of more than 100 prominent bishops in the Sacred College who advise the Pope and elect new Popes) cardinal by Pope Paul VI. By the time of the 2005 Conclave, he was one of only 14 remaining cardinals appointed by Paul VI, and one of only three of those under the age of 80 and thus eligible to participate in that conclave.

Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1981 – 2005) On November 25, 1981, Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office of the (A former tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church (1232-1820) created to discover and suppress heresy) Inquisition. He resigned the Munich (The diocese of an archbishop) archdiocese in early 1982. Already a cardinal priest, he was raised to Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni in 1993. He became vice-dean of the ((Roman Catholic Church) the body of cardinals who advise the Pope and elect new Popes) College of Cardinals in 1998, and dean in 2002.

In office, Ratzinger usually took traditional views on topics such as (Limiting the number of children born) birth control, (A sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) persons of the same sex) homosexuality, and inter-religious dialogue. Among other things, he played a key role in silencing outspoken liberation theologians and clergy in (The parts of North and South America south of the United States where Romance languages are spoken) Latin America in the 1980s.

In the early (The decade from 1990 to 1999) 1990s Ratzinger suffered a the act of swinging or striking at a ball with a club or racket or bat or cue or hand) stroke which slightly impaired his eyesight. The existence of the stroke had been known during the conclave that elected him pope. In May 2005, the Vatican revealed that he had subsequently suffered another mild stroke - it did not reveal when, other than that it occured between 2003 and 2005. (A republic in western Europe; the largest country wholly in Europe) France's Philippe Cardinal Barbarin further revealed that since the first stroke, Ratzinger has suffered from a heart condition. Because of his health problems, Ratzinger had hoped to retire, but had continued in his position in obedience to the wishes of Pope John Paul II.

Response to sex abuse scandalRegarding the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, he was seen by critics as at best, indifferent to the abuse and at worst, complicit in covering it up, both in specific cases and as a matter of policy. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), such abuses were ultimately his responsibility to investigate within the Church.

On May 18 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger, as part of the implementation of the norms enacted and promulgated on April 30 2001 by Pope John Paul II, sent a Latin language letter to every bishop in the Catholic church reminding them of the strict penalties facing those who revealed confidential details concerning enquiries into allegations against priests of certain grave ecclesiastical crimes, including (A statutory offense that provides that it is a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat) sexual abuse, reserved to the jurisdiction of the CDF. The letter established a prescription ( (A statute prescribing the time period during which legal action can be taken) statute of limitations) of 10 years for these crimes. However, when the crime is sexual abuse of a minor, the "prescription begins to run from the day on which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age." According to Catholic News Service, "One bishop who is well informed on the issue and asked not to be named said the secrecy demanded by the new norms gives the appearance of a “cover-up” by the church." Lawyers acting for two alleged victims of abuse in Texas claim that by sending the letter the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice. However, the letter did not discourage victims from reporting the abuse itself to the police; the secrecy related to the internal investigation. "The letter said the new norms reflected the CDF’s traditional “exclusive competence” regarding delicta graviora—Latin for “graver offenses.” According to canon law experts in Rome, reserving cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors to the CDF is something new. In past eras, some serious crimes by priests against sexual morality, including pedophilia, were handled by that congregation or its predecessor, the Holy Office, but this has not been true in recent years." The promulgation of the norms by Pope John Paul II and the subsequent letter by the then Prefect of the CDF were published in 2001 in Acta Apostolicae Sedis which, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law , is the (The smallest sovereign state in the world; the see of the Pope (as the Bishop of Rome); home of the Pope and the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church; achieved independence from Italy in 1929) Holy See's official journal, disseminated monthly to thousands of libraries and offices around the world.

On April 23 2005, The Independent reported that Ratzinger had since 1997 ignored specific sex abuse allegations made by nine different people against Friar Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ. Cardinal Ratzinger is quoted as having said "One can't put on trial such a close friend of the Pope's as Marcial Maciel." After the nine brought claims—many corroborated by each other's detailed testimonies—before the Vatican's courts in the mid- (The decade from 1990 to 1999) 1990s, on December 24 1999, Ratzinger's secretary, Father Gianfranco Girotti, wrote to the men saying that the Vatican considered the matter closed. In a last-ditch attempt to persuade Ratzinger to change his mind, another letter was despatched to him in 2002 through an intermediary. It went unanswered. Cardinal Ratzinger re-opened the investigation in December of 2004.

In 2002 Cardinal Ratzinger told Catholic News Service that "less than one percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type." Opponents saw this as ignoring the crimes of those who committed the abuse; others saw it as merely pointing out that this should not taint other priests who live respectable lives. A report by the Catholic Church itself estimated that some 4,450 of the Roman Catholic clergy who served between 1950 and 2002 have faced credible accusations of abuse. His (Friday before Easter) Good Friday reflections in 2005 were interpreted as strongly condemning and regretting the abuse scandals, which largely put to rest the speculation of indifference. Shortly after his election, he told Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, that he would attend to the matter.

Dialogue with other faithsIn 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a a document entitled Dominus Iesus, which created a lot of controversy. Some religious groups took offense to wild claims regarding the document, that supposedly stated that, "only in the Catholic Church is there eternal salvation." However this statement appears nowhere in the document. Like his speech, Relativism: The Central Problem for Faith Today, the document condemned "relativistic theories" of religious pluralism and described other faiths as "gravely deficient" in the means of salvation. The document was primarily aimed at reining in liberal Catholic theologians like Jacques Dupuis, who argued that other religions could contain God-given means of salvation not found in the Church of Christ, but it offended many religious leaders. Jewish religious leaders boycotted several interfaith meetings in protest.

A remarkable but unappreciated aspect of this document can be found in the actual official Latin text. Here, in the Latin text of Dominus Iesus, the famous" filioque clause," ("and the Son"), for more than one thousand years, a source of conflict between (The Christian Church based in the Vatican and presided over by a pope and an episcopal hierarchy) Roman Catholic and (Derived from the Byzantine Church and adhering to Byzantine rites) Orthodox Church is quietly left out without notice or comment. The filioque clause was a highly controversial change to the ((Christianity) a formal creed summarizing Christian beliefs; first adopted in 325 and later expanded) Nicene Creed. The clause was added by the Third Council of Toledo in 589. In Latin, the changed sentence is "Credo in Spiritum Sanctum qui ex patre filioque procedit ("I believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.") One site summarizes the significance of the Filioque clause, saying, "The filioque clause was probably devised in response to Arianism, which denied the full divinity of the Son....The Eastern and Western churches have remained separate, and the doctrine represented by the term filioque stands as one of the primary points of difference between them." Was the removal of the filioque clause an attempt by Cardinal Ratzinger, to reach a hand by across the theological/historical chasm separating Eastern and Western Churches?

Already in 1987, Cardinal Ratzinger had stated that Jewish history and scripture reach fulfillment only in Christ – a position critics denounced as "theological anti-Semitism," although it is very much in the general tradition of Christian views of the Old Testament and the Jews. Despite this, groups such as the World Jewish Congress commended his election as Pope as "welcome" and extolled his "great sensitivity".

Though his advent was congratulated by Buddhist leaders around the world, critics remembered that in March 1997 Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that (The teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment obtained through right conduct and wisdom and meditation releases one from desire and suffering and rebirth) Buddhism would over the coming century replace Marxism as the main "enemy" of the Catholic Church. Some also criticized him for calling Buddhism and
" autoerotic spirituality" that offered "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations" , though that might be a mistranslation from the French auto-erotisme, which more properly translates to self-absorption, or narcissism . Also the quote did not address Buddhism as such, but rather about how Buddhism "appears" to those Europeans who are using it to obtain some type of self-satisfying spiritual experience.

In an interview in 2004 for Le Figaro Magazine, Ratzinger said (A Eurasian republic in Asia Minor and the Balkans; achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1923) Turkey, a country (A believer or follower of Islam) Muslim by heritage and staunchly (An advocate of secularism; someone who believes that religion should be excluded from government and education) Secularist by its state constitution, should seek its future in an association of Islamic nations rather than the (An international organization of European countries formed after World War II to reduce trade barriers and increase cooperation among its members) EU, which has (A religious person who believes Jesus is the Christ and who is a member of a Christian denomination) Christian roots. He said Turkey had always been "in permanent contrast to (The 2nd smallest continent (actually a vast peninsula of Eurasia); the British use `Europe' to refer to all of the continent except the British Isles) Europe" and that linking it to Europe would be a mistake.

His defenders argue that it is to be expected that a leader within the Catholic Church would forcefully and explicitly argue in favor of the superiority of Catholicism over other religions. Others also maintain that single quotes from Dominus Iesus are not indicative of intolerance or an unwillingness to engage in dialogue with other (Loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person) faiths, and this is clear from a reading of the entire document. They point out that Ratzinger has been very active in promoting inter-faith dialogue. Specifically, they argue that Ratzinger has been instrumental at encouraging reconciliation with (Follower of Lutheranism) Lutherans. In defending Dominus Iesus, Benedict himself has stated that his belief is that inter-faith dialogue should take place on the basis of equal human dignity, but that equality of human dignity should not imply that each side is equally correct.


Election to the Papacy
Prediction On January 2, 2005, (The continuum of experience in which events pass from the future through the present to the past) Time magazine quoted unnamed Vatican sources as saying that Ratzinger was a frontrunner to succeed (The first Pope born in Poland (born in 1920)) John Paul II should the pope die or become too ill to continue as pope. On the death of (The first Pope born in Poland (born in 1920)) 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.

Piers Paul Read wrote in The Spectator on March 5, 2005:
There can be little doubt that his courageous promotion of orthodox Catholic teaching has earned him the respect of his fellow cardinals throughout the world. He is patently holy, highly intelligent and sees clearly what is at stake. Indeed, for those who blame the decline of Catholic practice in the developed world precisely on the propensity of many European bishops to hide their heads in the sand, a pope who confronts it may be just what is required. Ratzinger is no longer young — he is 78 years old: but Angelo Roncalli, who revolutionized Catholicism by calling the Second Vatican Council was the same age when he became pope as John XXIII. As Jeff Israely, the correspondent of Time, was told by a Vatican insider last month, "The Ratzinger solution is definitely on."

Cardinal Ratzinger had repeatedly stated he would like to retire to a Bavarian village and dedicate himself to writing books, but more recently, he told friends he was ready to "accept any charge God placed on him." After the death of (The first Pope born in Poland (born in 1920)) John Paul II on April 2, 2005 Ratzinger ceased functioning as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As he is now Pope, it will be up to him to decide who will follow him in the role of prefect.

In April 2005, before his election as pope, he was identified as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Despite all this, many experts were initially still somewhat skeptical that Ratzinger would be elected Pope. In modern history Papal predictions had usually been wrong, with the most popular candidates often losing the election in favor of a more unknown, obscure cardinal. For example following the death of Pope Paul VI many in the media predicted the next pope would be a non-Italian, only to have this prediction proven wrong with the election of Albino Luciani as John Paul I. Likewise, when John Paul died many predicted his successor would in turn be another Italian, yet this also was proven wrong with the election of the Polish Karol Wojtyla.

Election On April 19, 2005 Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the successor to Pope John Paul II on the second day of the papal conclave after four ballots. Coincidentally, April 19 is the feast of St. Leo IX, a German pope and saint.

Cardinal 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."

Before his first appearance at the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica after becoming pope, he was announced by the Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez, protodeacon of the College of Cardinals. Cardinal Medina Estévez first addressed the massive crowd as "dear(est) brothers and sisters" in Italian, Spanish, French, German and English — each language receiving cheers from the international crowd — before continuing in Latin. He announced the decision with the words:

Fratelli e sorelle carissimi; queridísimos hermanos y hermanas; bien chers frères et sœurs; liebe Brüder und Schwestern; dear brothers and sisters: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus Papam!

Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Iosephum,
Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Ratzinger,
qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedicti decimi sexti.

Which translates to:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!

The most Eminent and Reverend Lord,
the Lord Joseph
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Ratzinger,
who has taken to himself the name of Benedict the Sixteenth.

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

Cari fratelli e sorelle, dopo il grande Papa Giovanni Paolo Secondo, i signori cardinali hanno eletto me, un semplice e umile lavoratore nella vigna del Signore. Mi consola il fatto che il Signore sa lavorare ed agire anche con strumenti insufficienti e soprattutto mi affido alle vostre preghiere.Nella gioia del Signore risorto, fiduciosi nel suo aiuto permanente, andiamo avanti. Il Signore ci aiuterà e Maria sua Santissima Madre starà dalla nostra parte. Grazie.

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

He then gave the blessing to the people.

Choice of name
The choice of the name Benedict (Latin "the blessed") is significant. Benedict XVI used his first General Audience in St. Peter's Square, on April 27, 2005, to explain to the world on why he chose the name:
" 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 Norcia, 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!"

Early days of Papacy Pope Benedict has confounded the expectations of many in the early days of his papacy by his gentle public persona and his promise to listen. It is notable that he has used an open popemobile, saying that he wants to be closer to the people. Also, his (The official symbols of a family, state, etc.) coat of arms dropped the papal tiara which was replaced by a simple (A liturgical headdress worn by bishops on formal occasions) mitre. During his inaugural Mass, the previous custom of all the cardinals submitting was replaced by having 12 people, representing cardinals, clergy, religious, a married couple and their child, and newly confirmed people, submit to him.

Successor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith On May 13, 2005, Pope Benedict appointed San Francisco metropolitan archbishop William Joseph Levada as the next (A chief officer or chief magistrate) Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, making Levada the highest ranking American in the church hierarchy.

The Beatification of Pope John Paul II On May 13, 2005, Benedict XVI started the ((Roman Catholic Church) an act of the Pope who declares that a deceased person lived a holy life and is worthy of public veneration; a first step toward canonization) beatification process of Pope John Paul II. Normally, five years pass before the beatification process begins, but due to the popularity of John Paul II, Benedict XVI waived this custom and officially styled the late pope as Servant of God John Paul II.


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