Pope Benedict XVI Biography

Pope Benedict XVI is a prominent religious figure as the Pope Emeritus. This biography profiles his childhood, life, resignation, achievements, and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: April 16, 1927

Nationality: German

Famous: Spiritual & Religious Leaders German Men

Age: 93 Years, 93 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aries

Also Known As: Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger

Born in: Marktl, Germany

Famous as: Pope

Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Males


father: Joseph Ratzinger Sr.

mother: Maria Ratzinger

siblings: Georg Ratzinger

Founder/Co-Founder: Ratzinger Foundation, John Paul II Foundation

More Facts

education: Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Ducal Georgianum

awards: Commander of the Legion of Honour
Bavarian Order of Merit
Bayerische Verfassungsmedaille in Gold

Doctor honoris causa
Doctor honoris causa
Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art

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Pope Benedict XVI served as Pope from 2005 to 2013. He is the first Pope to have resigned since Gregory XII in the year 1415. During his papacy, Pope Benedict promoted the use of Latin and supported Christian values. He also came to be known for his rather conservative views on Catholicism and homosexuality. He has strong views about modern sins, describing the hunger for power and denial of moral truth as the main causes of problems in the 21st century. He is the first Pope to have been active on Twitter and to have attended full length television and radio interviews. Described as a highly intellectual person by many, he was a professor of theology and an academic, prior to being a Cardinal. He has received numerous honours for his contributions in the fields of literature and theology. Pope Benedict XVI also reinstated the use of traditional papal garments that had been dismissed by John Paul II and is often described as ‘The Pope of aesthetics’. Benedict XVI holds the title of Pope Emeritus since his resignation from the papal office.

Childhood & Early Life
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  • He was interested to become a priest so he, along with his brother, enrolled in Saint Michael Seminary in Traunstein in November 1945. He later went to study at the Ludwig – Maximilian University in Munich.
  • He was ordained as a priest along with his brother in 1951 at the hands of Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber.
  • He obtained his teaching license in 1957. In 1958, he became a professor of fundamental theology at the Freising College and at the University of Bonn in 1959.
  • During 1960 to 1966, he concentrated on theology, moving to the University of Münster and serving as a theological consultant. He was also appointed at the University of Tübingen during these years. His views stayed surprisingly conservative despite the liberal ideas going about in the theological circles at the time.
  • From 1976 to 1977, Ratzinger served as the Vice President of the University of Regensburg. In 1977, he became the Archbishop of Munich and Freising. In 1981, Benedict XVI was named as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II so he resigned from his post in 1982.
  • He was promoted in the College of Cardinals to become the Cardinal Bishop of Velletri – Segni in 1993 and became the dean of the College in 2002.
  • In 1997, Pope John Paul II denied Benedict XIV the permission to leave the Congregation and become an archivist in the Vatican Secret Archives.
  • After the death of Pope John Paul II, Benedict XIV was elected as the 265th Pope in 2005 at the age of 78. He is the oldest person to have been elected Pope since Pope Clement XII.
Major Works
  • He is known as a major figure in the Vatican for a long period of time. During his time as the Pope, he urged Christians to engage in charitable work. Maintaining the Vatican’s previous ideology about issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception, Benedict XVI spoke about Islam in several lectures. Addressing Christianity as ‘the only religion with reason’, he came under a lot of scrutiny. His relations with Judaism and Islam have been quite strained.
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  • Pope Benedict XVI also spoke against sexual abuse on numerous occasions. He spoke out about the sexual abuse in the Catholic church at the hands of priests in 2001 and did his best to take the necessary action against those involved. He also appointed a special commission to investigate such accusations.He visited victims of sexual abuse by priests and apologized for the abuse inflicted. He also met victims of abuse in Malta and was moved to tears.
  • He has written over 66 books, 3 encyclicals titled ‘Deus Caritas est’, ‘Spesalvi’,and ‘Caritas in veritate’. He has also written 3 exhortations titled ‘Sacramentum Caritatis’, ‘Verbum Domini’, and ‘Africae munus’. Over 600 of his written works have been published.
  • He also called for nuclear disarmament and spoke for productive and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Awards &Honors
  • He has been a Grand Master of the Order of St. Sylvester, Order of Pius IX, Order of the Golden Spur, Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, and Supreme of Order of Christ during his papacy.
  • In 1985, he got the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Bavarian Constitution Medal in Gold.
  • He also received the Leopold Kunschak Prize, the award for distinguishing works in areas of Human Sciences, Social Science and Economics in 1991.
  • He received the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria in 1992. He was also awarded the Literature Prize of Anacapri in the same year.
Personal Life
  • Being an accomplished pianist, Benedict XVI is fond of playing piano and watching old black and white comedy films. He is interested in classical music and favors the works of Mozart and Beethoven.
  • He has also recorded an album singing to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The album was slated for a release in 2009.
  • He is fond of cats and his cat Contessina is known to live at his residence. According to his neighbors, he used to look after stray cats living around when he was a Cardinal. He has also been known to have cats around to keep him company during his visits to various countries.
  • After his retirement, the Pope has been known to spend his time reading and writing.
  • He is fluent in 10 languages.
  • He still has the stuffed animals that his mother made for him as a child.
  • He likes orange marmalade.

See the events in life of Pope Benedict XVI in Chronological Order

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