Benedict XVI, original name Joseph Alois Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, in Germany. He was the Bishop of Rome and the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

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Prior to his election as Pope, Benedict led a distinguished career as a theologian and as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

Pope’s early life

Ratzinger’s father was a policeman and his mother was a hotel cook. He was one of the youngest of three kids. His parents being staunch Catholics were hostile to the Nazis regime.

He was even forced to join the Hitler Youth and later was drafted into the German military. During all this, he was once captured by the American troops and was kept in the prison for a brief period.

Pope’s life as a theologian

Before being a Pope, Ratzinger was a successful theologian and worked a lot as well. He was ordained as a priest in June 1951. In 1953, he was awarded a doctorate in theology from the University of Munich.

He taught Dogma and theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology in Freising after earning a teaching license in 1957. Ratzinger wrote a number of important theological works, including Introduction to Christianity (1968) and Dogma and Revelation (1973). 

Papacy

Ratzinger’s election as pope on the second day of the conclave was something of a surprise because of his status as a leading candidate; front-runners are almost never chosen, a fact reflected in the popular expression, “He who enters as a pope leaves as a cardinal.”

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His position with the cardinal electors was apparently secured by his long service to John Paul and his devotion to his predecessor’s teachings and ideals. . Although he said he had prayed not to be chosen, Ratzinger humbly accepted his election on April 19, 2005, becoming at age 78 the oldest newly elected pope since Clement XII (1730–40). His choice of the name Benedict XVI recalled St. Benedict of Nursia, the patron saint of Europe and the founder of Western monasticism

Challenges during his papacy

His papacy faced several challenges, including a decline in vocations and church attendance, divisive debates concerning the direction of the church, and the effects of the scandal beginning in the late 1990s surrounding the church’s handling of numerous cases of sexual abuse by priests.

In 2022 a report commissioned by the archdiocese in Munich accused the retired pope of mishandling four cases of sexual abuse when he was the archbishop.

Although the pope didn’t say yes to any of these accusations but asked for forgiveness from the people.

Citing his old age, in 2013 he became the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

Pope Dies at 95

“We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind and we feel such gratitude in our hearts, gratitude to god for giving him to the church, and to the world,” Francis said in Saint Peter’s Basilica while leading traditional vespers ceremony ahead of New Year’s Day.

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“Gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished and above all for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his life. Only God knows the value of his sacrifices for the good of the church,” Francis added.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, took his last breath in Monastero Mater Ecclesiæ, Vatican City at the age of 95.

The former pope’s body was kept in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican for the faithful to bid farewell, Vatican News reported. As per the wish of Pope Emeritus, his funeral was kept “simple”.

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