Pope Benedict XVI
- Category : Religion-Popes
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Limitation 1
German-born ecclesiastic, a Roman Catholic who was elected Pope on April 19, 2005 at about 5:50 PM local time at the Vatican, taking the name of Benedict XVI. He greeted the public from the Papal balcony delivering his blessing in his first “Urbi et Orbi” speech at 6:48 PM local time according to the Vatican press office. The Pope has been a Cardinal since June 27, 1977. Before his ascension to the highest office in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, he was Dean of the College of Cardinals.
The son of a police officer from a farming family in Lower Bavaria, Joseph Ratzinger was drafted into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service during World War II but deserted. He was subsequently imprisoned in an Allied POW camp until the end of the war. In 1946 he began studies in philosophy and theology at the University of Munich. Ordained as a priest on June 29, 1951, he obtained his doctorate in theology in 1953. By 1957, he qualified as a university teacher and began teaching. By 1969, he had become a professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg. He held the administrative post of Vice President at the same institution.
In March 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and on May 28, 1977 he was installed in that post. He was elevated to Cardinal one month later. In 1981 he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, where he earned the nickname “the Enforcer.” He was elected Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals on November 6, 1998. Four years later, on November 30, 2002, he became Dean.
An academic, a writer, and a professor, he is an intellectual whose conservative views have stood him in good stead at the Vatican, and he became a primary advisor to Pope John Paul II. As the health of Pope John Paul II deteriorated, many speculated that Cardinal Ratzinger would be named Pope when John Paul II died.
The man who is now Benedict XVI is considered to be genuinely pious, intellectually brilliant, blunt, and passionate about the “truth,” a man who has the courage of his convictions. Despite his conservative and dogmatic views, he is described as being personally charming and quick-witted, a stimulating conversationalist, fluent in several languages. His experiences as a young man during World War II were critical in formulating his ideas about the role of the Church. After seeing the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis, he argues that the Church must present an alternative to the state and that the church must stand for absolute truths. He warns that the Church must not become a “plaything of outside forces.”
In his role as Pope Benedict XVI, he is expected to continue hammering home his conservative views. Many cardinals with more liberal stances have felt the punitive sting of his ecclesiastic disdain. Church-watchers blame him for a Vatican degree issued during his predecessor’s reign that barred Catholic priests from counseling pregnant teens on any option other than to raise their children as good Catholics. He is reportedly the person responsible for forbidding Catholics from sharing communion with Lutherans at a 2003 ecumenical convention. He has been openly critical of other religions, calling them “deficient” and sees homosexuality as an “intrinsic moral evil.”
His fans say that his role as “guardian of orthodoxy” is the beacon of light in changing times. One supporter describes him as a “subtle thinker with a deep understanding of Catholic tradition and a personal touch he's not often given credit for.”
Regardless of his personal charm, past accomplishments, doctrinal interpretation or intellectual brilliance, his job as Pope will be challenging. He will reign in a global and technical environment that is rapidly changing and in times that are divisive politically, culturally and religiously. He faces demands from many of his flock, ecclesiastics and lay people both, who want the Church to adapt to changing mores about reproductive rights and options, the place of women, gays, lesbians in the Church, the recruitment of clergy. And he follows in the shoes of a much-loved predecessor who may have shared Benedict’s doctrinal views but whose benefic demeanor and outreach efforts to other religions and cultures earned Pope John Paul II exalted status.
Pope Benedict inflamed many Muslims by comments made in a speech against religious violence delivered in Regensburg, Germany on September 12, 2006. In the talk, Benedict quoted a Christian Byzantine emperor who wrote "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
As the first pope in 800 years, and as the second only in church history, Benedict announced on 11 February 2012 that he would voluntarily step down from his position as pope, due to health reasons, on 28 February 2013, at 20:00 (8 pm).