April 14, 2009-
This week Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate his 82nd birthday and the fourth anniversary of his pontificate.
Joseph Ratzinger was born in Germany on a Holy Saturday in 1927. As a child he would witness firsthand how the oppressions of the Nazi regime plagued his country and the Catholic Church.
Shortly after the end of World War II, Ratzinger finished his studies in philosophy and theology in Freising, where he would later teach, and also at the University of Munich.
He spent most of the 1960s teaching in German universities in Bonn, Munster, Tubingen and Regensburg.
In 1977, professor Ratzinger became Archbishop Ratzinger when Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and then Cardinal three months later. He participated in the papal conclaves that elected John Paul I and John Paul. Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 1981 and his chief collaborator.
It was on April 19, 2005, however, that Joseph Ratzinger received a much different title: Vicar of Christ. Ratzinger had become Pope Benedict XVI, succeeding Pope John Paul II.
Cardinal Medina Estévez
Pope Benedict XVI
“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord.”
Next month, Benedict will celebrate an important moment in his Pontificate when he visits the Holy Land for the first time as Pope.