Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Biography of Pope Benedict XVI

Following is the official biography of the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission, Dean of the College of Cardinals, was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951.

His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Bavaria. He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, and was called into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the last months of World War II. 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, in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, in Munster from 1963 to 1966, and in Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. From 1969, he was professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and vice president of the same university.

He was already well known in 1962 when, at Vatican Council II at the age of 35, he became a consultor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, archbishop of Cologne. 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; and to "Dogma and Revelation" an anthology of essays, sermons and reflections dedicated to the pastoral ministry, published in 1973.

In March 1977, Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on May 28, 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 June 27, 1977, he assumed the titles of the suburbicarian Church of Velletri-Segni (April 5, 1993) and of the suburbicarian Church of Ostia (November 30, 2002).

On November 25, 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and as president of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.

He was relator of the 5th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1980).
He was president delegate to the 6th Synodal Assembly (1983).

Elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals November 6, 1998, the Holy Father approved his election, by the order of cardinal bishops, as dean of the College of Cardinals on November 30, 2002.

As President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, after 6 years of work (1986-92) he presented the New Catechism to the Holy Father.

He received an honoris causa degree in jurisprudence from the Free University of Maria Santissima Assunta on November 10. 1999.
He became an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, November 13, 2000.

Curial Membership:

- Secretariat of State (second section).
- Oriental Churches, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Bishops, Evangelization of Peoples, Catholic Education (congregations).
- Christian Unity (council).
- Latin America, Ecclesia Dei (commissions). -V.I.S.


Anonymous said...


Ratzinger was CONSCRIPTED by the Nazis as a TEENAGER. He DESERTED at risk to his own life BEFORE he even turned 18. Get a clue, read a book, stop trolling.

Anonymous said...


Dear brothers and sisters after the great Pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard ...

Conservative and old (78) ? A stop gap? A German Cardinal who was known, in name at least, by even non-Catholics! Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) was elected after 4 ballots in less than 24 hours. His Homily to John Paul II is now being seen as his manifesto for election to the Papacy.

The prevailing view seems to be that he will continue to espouse the conservative aspects of John Paul II's Papacy. On the other hand, comparisons with initial reactions to JohnXXIII's election, who went on to call the 2nd Vatican Council, and the significance of his choice of the name Benedict, Benedict XV, who was influential on the creation of the Versailles Treaty give some people a vague reason for not writing him off as a reactionary authoritarian, as 'the Panzer Pope'. In his obvious closeness to, and allegiance with John Paul II, we can surely expect that he will continue to preach the values of love and peace, certainly the comparison with Benedict XV could be a valid one but John XXIII?

Anonymous said...

I hope that this "official biography" will one day appear with an official translation from its (Latin?) original. What we have here is amateurish indeed. Vivat Papa!

Jimbo said...


You just called the Vatican Information Service of the Holy See Press Office "amateurish." That is their official translation of the offical biography. It's not available in Latin. But here is the Italian.

Denis Brosnan said...

Thank you for the Italian version, Jimbo.

We Australians like to argue the toss with authority figures,and the late Pope took issue with our bishops at their ad limina visit a couple of years ago because he saw us as being too egalitarian.

On purely intellectual matters such as this translation,as opposed to translating poetry or a novel, where the heart may rule the head, I call it as I see it: the "official translation" of the biography of our new Holy Father contains inaccuracies and inconsistencies and actually leaves out some parts of the Italian. And the Italian itself contains minor inconsistencies in its use of nomenclature. There is not enough, on a quick review, to get my blood pressure up, but I stand by my assessment. If one of my students had handed this in years ago, I'd have called it sloppy.

Let's just hope that the final English version of the Mass is true to the meaning and to the words of the Latin.


Jimbo said...


I also hope that the translation of the mass is as accurate as possible. Thanks for your thoughts. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I have looked over a number of biographies of our new Pope on the Web, inlcuding the one above, but I cannot satisfy my curiosity on one point: did he EVER serve as a regular parish priest?

Anonymous said...

Oh, true enough that black propaganda has been going around! When I was in school going through the requisite theology courses, did I ever think I'd be defending the then Cardinal Ratzinger against attacks on his person? Not in my wildest dreams.

Anyway, I'm finding the links very useful. Thank you very much.