Biography of Benedict XVI
February 11, 2013. (Romereports.com) Despite being a close aid of John Paul II for 23 years, little is known about the life of Joseph Ratzinger. As head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith he became the moral watchdog of the Church. He fended off attacks against Marxist ideology and the dangers of heresy. A prolific writer, Cardinal Ratzinger is the author of dozens of essays and books on theology.
“Faith which is the human experience which opens up man to God is not in conflict with science. On the contrary, science requires a higher dimension for man to truly understand his essence.”
Up until the late seventies, we didn’t know much about the private Joseph Ratzinger. Then on his 50th birthday, he published his memoirs, entitled Milestones.
Born on April 16, 1927, in Bavaria, Germany, Joseph was the youngest of three children. Baptized the following day at the Easter Vigil Mass, he recalled that moment as personally very meaningful to him… a symbol of the hope of the Resurrection.
“Let us move forward in the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help. The Lord will help us and Mary, his Most Holy Mother, will be on our side.”
At just 12 years of age, and with the encouragement of his parish priest, he followed in his brother’s footsteps and entered the seminary. That was 1939. By then, Hitler had declared war and the Third Reich began recruiting young people. Joseph Ratzinger was among them.
But in May of 1945, he deserted the army and went home, a decision that landed him in a prisoner of war camp. A month later, Joseph was able to go back to the seminary and was ordained in 1951. Later he presented his doctoral thesis on St. Augustine and from that moment, he developed a great devotion to him. Another one he prayed to was St. Benedict, one of the patrons saints of Europe.
“I wished to call myself Benedict XVI to be united ideally with the venerated Benedict XV, authentic prophet of peace.”
In 1977, Paul VI named him archbishop of Munich and Frisinga. As cardinal, he participated in the two conclaves of 1978 which elected John Paul I and II. Pope Wojtyla then called him to Rome.
In the Roman neighborhood close to the Vatican, people talk about his simplicity and though he’s German, he never touches beer.
“Something funny that I remember is that he used to always have orange soda. When he would come here, I would always ask, Your eminence, your usual orange soda? And he would say yes with a smile.”
Those who know him well say that he’s not only affable but has a good sense of humour. It’s quite a contrast to the Darth Vader-like image he’s earned from the media.