Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
- Elected pope on April 19, 2005; took the name Benedict XVI.
Born April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, (the diocese of Passau), Germany. He speaks
eight languages among them his native German, English, French, Italian, Portuguese
and Spanish. He is also an accomplished pianist.
Prior to his Papal Election, Cardinal Ratzinger’s last position held in Rome was as the
Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical
Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission, Dean of the College
His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower
Baviera. He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein. He was ordained a priest on
June 29, 1951 by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, archbishop of Münich und Freising.
From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach,
he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher
school in Freising. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled:
"The People and House of God in St. Augustine’s doctrine of the Church". Four years
later, he qualified as a university teacher. He then taught dogma and fundamental
theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, then in Bonn
from 1959 to 1969, Münster from 1963 to 1966, Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. From
1969, he was a professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the
University of Regensburg and Vice President of the same university.
Already in 1962 he was well known when, at the age of 35, he became a consultor at
Vatican Council II, of the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joseph Frings. Among his
numerous publications, a particular post belongs to the ‘Introduction to Christianity’,
a collection of university lessons on the profession of apostolic faith, published in
1968; Dogma and revelation, an anthology of essays, sermons and reflections
dedicated to the pastoral ministry, published in 1973.
In March 1977, Paul VI elected him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on 28 May
1977 he was consecrated, the first diocesan priest after 80 years to take over the
pastoral ministry of this large Bavarian diocese.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Paul VI in the consistory of 27 June 1977. Titular
churches, suburbicarian see of Velletri-Segni (5 April 1993) and suburbicarian see of
Ostia (30 November 2002).
On 25 November 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith; President of the Biblical Commission and of the
Pontifical International Theological Commission.
Relator of the 5th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1980).
President Delegate to the 6th Synodal Assembly (1983).
Elected Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals, 6 November 1998. On 30 November
2002, the Holy Father approved the election, by the order of cardinal bishops, as
Dean of the College of Cardinals.
President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic
Church, and after 6 years of work (1986-92) he presented the New Catechism to the
Laurea honoris causa in jurisprudence from the Libera Università Maria Santissima
Assunta, 10 November 1999.
Honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 13 November 2000.
• Secretariat of State (second section)
• Oriental Churches, Divine Worship and Sacraments, Bishops, Evangelization
of Peoples, Catholic Education (congregations)
• Christian Unity, Culture (councils)
• Latin America, Ecclesia Dei (commissions)
Education. Superior School of Philosophy, Freising; University of Münich, Münich
(doctorate in theology).
Priesthood. Ordained, June 29, 1951, by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber,
archbishop of Münich und Freising. Further studies, 1951-1952. Faculty member,
Superior School of Philosophy and Theology, Freising, 1952-1959; University of Bonn,
1959-1963; University of Münster, 1963-1969; University of Tübingen, 1966-1969;
University of Ratisbon, 1969-1977; vice-president, University of Ratisbon, 1969-
1977, expert, II Vatican Council, 1962-1965. Member, International Theological
Commission, Vatican City, 1969-1977.
Episcopate. Elected archbishop of Münich und Freising, March 24, 1977.
Consecrated, May 28, 1977, Münich, by Josef Stange, bishop of Würzburg.
Cardinalate. Created cardinal priest in the consistory of June 27, 1977; received the
red biretta and the title of S. Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino, June 27, 1977.
Attended IV Ordinary Assembly of World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, September
30-October 29, 1977. Participated in the conclave of August 25-26, 1978. Special
papal envoy to 3rd National Marian Congress, Guayaquil, Ecuador, September 16-24,
1978. Participated in the conclave of October 14-16, 1978. Attended I Plenary
Meeting of Sacred College of Cardinal, Vatican City, November 5-9, 1979; V Ordinary
Assembly of World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, September 26-October 25, 1980;
relator general; member of general secretariat, 1980-1983. Prefect of S.C. for
Doctrine of Faith, president of Pontifical Biblical Commission, and president of
International Theological Commission, November 25, 1981. Resigned pastoral
government of archdiocese, February 15, 1982. Attended VI Ordinary Assembly of
World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, September 29-October 28, 1983; president
delegate; member of general secretariat, 1983-1986. Attended II Extraordinary
Assembly of World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, November 24-December 8, 1985;
member of general secretariat until 1987. Attended VII Ordinary Assembly of World
Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, October 1-30, 1987; member of general secretariat,
1987-1990. Attended VIII Ordinary Assembly of World Synod of Bishops, Vatican
City, September 30-October 28, 1990; member of general secretariat, 1990-1994.
Attended Special Assembly of World Synod of Bishops for Europe, Vatican City,
November 28-December 14, 1991. Bishop of title of suburbicarian see of Velletri-
Segni, April 5, 1993. Attended Special Assembly of World Synod of Bishops for Africa,
Vatican City, April 10-May 8, 1994; IX Ordinary Assembly of World Synod of Bishops,
Vatican City, October 2-29, 1994. Attended Special Assembly for America of World
Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, November 16-December 12, 1997; Special Assembly
for Asia of World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, April 29-May 14, 1998. Vice-dean of
College of Cardinals, November 9, 1998. Attended Special Assembly for Oceania of
World Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, November 22-December 12, 1998. Special
papal envoy to 12th centenary celebrations of creation of diocese of Paderborn,
Germany, January 3, 1999. Attended II Special Assembly for Europe of World Synod
of Bishops, Vatican City, October 1-23, 1999; X Ordinary Assembly of World Synod
of Bishops, Vatican City, September 30-October 27, 2001. Special papal envoy to the
jubilar celebrations in the diocese of Regensburg, Germany, October 6, 2002. Dean
of the College of Cardinals and bishop of the title of the suburbicarian see of Ostia,
added to Vellteri-Segni, November 30, 2002. Papal legate to the celebrations of the
750th anniversary of the canonization of St. Stanislaus, bishop and martyr, Kraków,
Poland, May 11, 2003. Participated in the conclave of April 18-19, 2005 and was