Benedict XVI (Latin:
Benedictus PP. XVI;
Italian: Benedetto XVI;
German: Benedikt XVI.;
born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; 16 April 1927) is the
a position in which he serves dual roles as Sovereign of the
Vatican City State and leader of the
Catholic Church. Benedict XVI was elected on 19 April 2005 in a
papal conclave, celebrated his
Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005. A native of
he has both German and Vatican citizenship.
Ordained as a priest in 1951, Ratzinger established himself as a
highly regarded university theologian by the late 1950s and was
appointed a full professor in 1958. After a long career as an academic,
serving as a professor of theology at several German universities—the
last being the
University of Regensburg, where he served as Vice President of the
university 1976–1977—he was appointed
Archbishop of Munich and Freising and
Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little
pastoral experience. In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most
dicasteries of the
Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as Pope, he was also
Dean of the College of Cardinals, and as such the
primus inter pares among the cardinals. Prior to becoming Pope,
he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century"
as "one of the most respected, influential and controversial members of
the College of Cardinals"; he had an influence "second to none when it
came to setting church priorities and directions" as one of
Pope John Paul II's closest confidants.
Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI is theologically conservative in
his teaching and his prolific
writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his
papacy, Benedict XVI has advocated a return to fundamental
Christian values to counter the increased
secularisation of many developed countries. He views
relativism's denial of
objective truth, and the denial of
moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st
century. He teaches the importance of both the Catholic Church and an
understanding of God's redemptive love. He has reaffirmed the
"importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing
secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work."
Pope Benedict has also revived a number of traditions including
Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position.
On 11 February 2013, Benedict announced his pending resignation from
the papacy, effective 28 February 2013, because of "lack of strength of
mind and body".
He will become the first pope to
Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so voluntarily since
Celestine V in 1294.
Pope Benedict XVI at a private audience on 20 January 2006
Benedict XVI was
elected Pope at the age of 78. He is the
oldest person to have been elected Pope since
Pope Clement XII (1730–40). He had served longer as a
cardinal than any Pope since
Benedict XIII (1724–30). He is the ninth
German Pope, the eighth having been the Dutch-German
Pope Adrian VI (1522–23) from
Utrecht. The last Pope named Benedict was
Benedict XV, an Italian who reigned from 1914 to 1922, during World
War I (1914–18).
Born in 1927 in
Bavaria, Germany, Ratzinger had a distinguished career as a university
theologian before being appointed
Archbishop of Munich and Freising by
Pope Paul VI (1963–78). Shortly afterwards, he was made a cardinal
consistory of 27 June 1977. He was appointed Prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II in
1981 and was also assigned the honorific title of the
cardinal bishop of Velletri-Segni on 5 April 1993. In 1998, he was
elected sub-dean of the
College of Cardinals. On 30 November 2002, he was elected dean,
taking, as is customary, the title of cardinal bishop of the
suburbicarian diocese of
Ostia. He was the first Dean of the College elected Pope since
Paul IV (1555–59) and the first
cardinal bishop elected Pope since
Pius VIII (1829–30).
Even before becoming Pope, Ratzinger was one of the most influential
men in the
Roman Curia, and was a close associate of John Paul II. As Dean of
the College of Cardinals, he presided over the
funeral of John Paul II and over the Mass immediately preceding the
2005 conclave in which he was elected. During the service, he called on
the assembled cardinals to hold fast to the doctrine of the faith. He
was the public face of the church in the
sede vacante period, although, technically, he ranked below the
Camerlengo in administrative authority during that time. Like
his predecessor, Benedict XVI affirms traditional Catholic doctrine.
In addition to his native German, Benedict speaks French and Italian
fluently. He also has a very good command of Latin and speaks English
and Spanish adequately. Furthermore, he has some knowledge of
Portuguese. He can read
Ancient Greek and biblical
He has stated that his first foreign language is French. He is a member
of several scientific academies, such as the French
Académie des sciences morales et politiques. He plays the piano
and has a preference for
Marktl, the house where Ratzinger was born. The building
still stands today.
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on 16 April,
Holy Saturday, 1927, at Schulstraße 11, at 8:30 in the morning in
his parents' home in
Bavaria, Germany. He was baptised the same day. He was the third and
youngest child of
Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., a police officer, and Maria Ratzinger (née
Peintner). His mother's family was originally from
South Tyrol (now in Italy).[citation
needed] Pope Benedict XVI's brother,
Georg Ratzinger, a priest and former director of the
Regensburger Domspatzen choir, is still alive. His sister, Maria
Ratzinger, who never married, managed Cardinal Ratzinger's household
until her death in 1991. Their grand-uncle was the German politician
At the age of five, Ratzinger was in a group of children who welcomed
Cardinal Archbishop of Munich with flowers. Struck by the cardinal's
distinctive garb, he later announced the very same day that he wanted to
be a cardinal.
Ratzinger attended the elementary school in
Aschau am Inn, which was renamed in his honour in 2009.
Following his 14th birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was conscripted into
Hitler Youth—as membership was required by law for all 14-year-old
German boys after December 1939—but
was an unenthusiastic member who refused to attend meetings, according
to his brother.
In 1941, one of Ratzinger's cousins, a 14-year-old boy with
Down syndrome, was taken away by the Nazi regime and murdered during
Action T4 campaign of
In 1943, while still in seminary, he was drafted into the German
anti-aircraft corps as
Luftwaffenhelfer (air force child soldier).
Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry.
As the Allied front drew closer to his post in 1945, he
deserted back to his family's home in
Traunstein after his unit had ceased to exist, just as American
troops established their headquarters in the Ratzinger household.
As a German soldier, he was put in a
POW camp but was released a few months later at the end of the war
in the summer of 1945.
He reentered the seminary, along with his brother Georg, in November of
Thus, following repatriation in 1945, the two brothers entered Saint
Michael Seminary in Traunstein, later studying at the
Ducal Georgianum (Herzogliches Georgianum) of the
Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. They were both ordained in
Freising on 29 June 1951 by Cardinal
Michael von Faulhaber of Munich. Ratzinger recalled:
...at the moment the elderly Archbishop laid his hands on me, a
little bird – perhaps a lark – flew up from the altar in the high
cathedral and trilled a little joyful song.
Ratzinger's 1953 dissertation was on
St. Augustine and was titled The People and the House of God in
Augustine's Doctrine of the Church. His
Habilitation (which qualified him for a professorship) was on
Bonaventure. It was completed in 1957 and he became a professor of
Freising College in 1958.
Academic career: 1951–77
Ratzinger became a professor at the
University of Bonn in 1959; his inaugural lecture was on "The God of
Faith and the God of Philosophy". In 1963, he moved to the
University of Münster.
During this period, Ratzinger participated in the
Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Ratzinger served as a
(theological consultant) to
Cardinal Frings of Cologne. He was viewed during the time of the
Council as a reformer, cooperating with theologians like
Edward Schillebeeckx. Ratzinger became an admirer of
Karl Rahner, a well-known academic theologian of the
Nouvelle Théologie and a proponent of church reform.
In 1966, Ratzinger was appointed to a chair in dogmatic theology at
University of Tübingen, where he was a colleague of
Küng. In his 1968 book Introduction to Christianity, he wrote
that the pope has a duty to hear differing voices within the Church
before making a decision, and he downplayed the centrality of the
papacy. During this time, he distanced himself from the atmosphere of
Tübingen and the
leanings of the student movement of the 1960s that quickly radicalised,
in the years 1967 and 1968, culminating in a series of disturbances and
riots in April and May 1968. Ratzinger came increasingly to see these
and associated developments (such as decreasing respect for authority
among his students) as connected to a departure from traditional
Despite his reformist bent, his views increasingly came to contrast with
the liberal ideas gaining currency in theological circles.
Some voices, among them Hans Küng, deem this a turn towards
conservatism, while Ratzinger himself said in a 1993 interview, "I see
no break in my views as a theologian [over the years]".
Ratzinger has continued to defend the work of the Second Vatican
Nostra Aetate, the document on respect of other religions,
ecumenism and the declaration of the right to
freedom of religion. Later, as the
Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Ratzinger most clearly spelled out the Catholic Church's position on
other religions in the 2000 document
Dominus Iesus which also talks about the Roman Catholic way to
engage in "ecumenical
During his years at Tübingen University, Ratzinger published articles
in the reformist theological journal
Concilium, though he increasingly chose less reformist themes
than other contributors to the magazine such as Hans Küng and
In 1969, he returned to Bavaria, to the
University of Regensburg. He founded the theological journal
Hans Urs von Balthasar,
Henri de Lubac,
Walter Kasper and others, in 1972. Communio, now published in
seventeen languages, including German, English and Spanish, has become a
prominent journal of contemporary Catholic theological thought. Until
his election as Pope, he remained one of the journal's most prolific
contributors. In 1976, he suggested that the
Augsburg Confession might possibly be recognised as a Catholic
statement of faith.
He served as Vice President of the University of Regensburg from 1976
Archbishop of Munich and Freising: 1977–82
in Munich, the residence of Benedict as
Archbishop of Munich and Freising
On 24 March 1977, Ratzinger was appointed
Archbishop of Munich and Freising. He took as his episcopal motto
Cooperatores Veritatis (Co-workers of the Truth) from
3 John 8, a choice he comments upon in his autobiographical work,
Milestones. In the
consistory of the following 27 June, he was named
Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino by
Pope Paul VI. By the time of the 2005 Conclave, he was one of only
14 remaining cardinals appointed by Paul VI, and one of only three of
those under the age of 80. Of these, only he and
William Wakefield Baum took part in the conclave.
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
On 25 November 1981, Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger as the Prefect
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as
the "Sacred Congregation of the
Holy Office", the historical
Roman Inquisition. Consequently, he resigned his post at Munich in
early 1982. He was promoted within the
College of Cardinals to become
Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni in 1993 and was made the college's
vice-dean in 1998 and dean in 2002. Just a year after its foundation in
1990 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger joined the
European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg/Austria in 1991.
Ratzinger defended and reaffirmed Catholic doctrine, including
teaching on topics such as
birth control, homosexuality, and inter-religious dialogue. The
Leonardo Boff, for example, was suspended, while others were
censured. Other issues also prompted condemnations or revocations of
rights to teach: for instance, some posthumous writings of
Anthony de Mello were the subject of a
notification. Ratzinger and the congregation viewed many of them,
particularly the later works, as having an element of religious
indifferentism (i.e., Christ was "one master alongside others").
Dominus Iesus, published by the congregation in the jubilee year
2000, reaffirmed many recently "unpopular" ideas, including the Catholic
Church's position that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is
no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." The
document angered many Protestant churches by claiming that they are not
actually churches, but "ecclesial communities".
Ratzinger's 2001 letter
De delictis gravioribus clarified the confidentiality of
internal church investigations, as defined in the 1962 document
Crimen Sollicitationis, into accusations made against priests of
certain crimes, including
sexual abuse. This became a target of controversy during the
sex abuse scandal.
As a Cardinal, Raztinger had been for twenty years the man in charge of
enforcing the document.
While bishops hold the secrecy pertained only internally, and did not
preclude investigation by civil law enforcement, the letter was often
seen as promoting a coverup.
Later, as Pope, he was accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to cover up
the molestation of three boys in Texas, but sought and obtained
diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
On 12 March 1983, Ratzinger, as prefect, notified the lay faithful
and the clergy that
Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc had incurred
latae sententiae for
episcopal consecrations without the apostolic mandate.
In 1997, when he turned 70, Ratzinger asked Pope John Paul II for
permission to leave the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and to
become an archivist in the
Vatican Secret Archives and a librarian in the
Vatican Library, but the pope refused such permission.
On 2 January 2005,
Time magazine quoted unnamed Vatican sources as saying that
Ratzinger was a front runner to succeed John Paul II should the pope die
or become too ill to continue as pope. On the death of John Paul II, the
Financial Times gave the odds of Ratzinger becoming pope as 7–1,
the lead position, but close to his rivals on the liberal wing of the
church. In April 2005, before his election as pope, he was identified as
one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time.
While Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Ratzinger repeatedly stated he would like to retire to his house in the
Bavarian village of Pentling near
Regensburg and dedicate himself to writing books.
Though Ratzinger was increasingly considered the front runner by much
of the international media, others maintained that his election was far
from certain, since very few papal predictions in modern history had
come true. The elections of both John Paul II and his predecessor,
John Paul I had been rather unexpected. Despite being the favorite
(or perhaps because he was the favorite), it was a surprise to many that
he was actually elected, as traditionally the frontrunners are passed
over by the conclave for someone else.
On 19 April 2005, Ratzinger was elected as the successor to Pope John
Paul II on the second day of the
papal conclave after four ballots. Ratzinger had hoped to retire
peacefully and said that "At a certain point, I prayed to God 'please
don't do this to me'...Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me."
Coincidentally, 19 April is the feast of St.
Leo IX, the most important German pope of the
Middle Ages, known for instituting major reforms during his
Before his first appearance at the balcony of
Saint Peter's Basilica after becoming pope, he was announced by
Jorge Medina Estévez,
Cardinal Protodeacon of the
Holy Roman Church. Cardinal Medina Estévez first addressed the
massive crowd as "dear(est) brothers and sisters" in Italian, Spanish,
French, German and English, with each language receiving cheers from the
international crowd, before continuing with the traditional
Habemus Papam announcement in Latin.
At the balcony, Benedict's first words to the crowd, given in Italian
before he gave the traditional
Urbi et Orbi blessing in Latin, were:
brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the
Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble labourer in the
vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work
and to act even with insufficient instruments comforts me, and
above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the
Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help, let us move
forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother,
will be on our side. Thank you.
On 24 April, he celebrated the
Papal Inauguration Mass in
St. Peter's Square, during which he was invested with the
Ring of the Fisherman. Then, on 7 May, he took possession of his
cathedral church, the
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
Choice of name
Ratzinger chose the
Benedict, which comes from the Latin word meaning "the blessed", in
honour of both
Pope Benedict XV and Saint
Benedict of Nursia. Pope Benedict XV was Pope during the First World
War, during which time he passionately pursued peace between the warring
nations. St. Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the
Benedictine monasteries (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of
the Benedictine order) and the author of the
Rule of Saint Benedict, which is still the most influential
writing regarding the monastic life of Western Christianity.
The pope explained his choice of name during his first
General Audience in St. Peter's Square, on 27 April 2005:
with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why
I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV,
that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through
turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in
the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples.
Additionally, I recall
Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron
of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I
ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ
in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our
thoughts and actions!
Tone of papacy
During his inaugural Mass, the previous custom of every cardinal
submitting to the Pope was replaced by having twelve people, including
cardinals, clergy, religious, a married couple and their child, and
confirmed people, greet him. (The cardinals had formally sworn their
obedience upon his election.) He began using an open-topped
papal car, saying that he wanted to be closer to the people. Pope
Benedict has continued the tradition of his predecessor John Paul II and
baptises several infants in the Sistine Chapel at the beginning of each
year, in his pastoral role as Bishop of Rome.
On 9 May 2005, Benedict XVI began the
beatification process for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
Normally, five years must pass after a person's death before the
beatification process can begin. However, in an audience with Pope
Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome and the official responsible
for promoting the
cause for canonization of any person who dies within that diocese,
cited "exceptional circumstances" which suggested that the waiting
period could be waived. This happened before, when
Pope Paul VI waived the five-year rule and announced beatification
processes for his predecessors,
Pope Pius XII and
Pope John XXIII. Benedict XVI followed this precedent when he waived
the five-year rule for John Paul II.
The decision was announced on 13 May 2005, the Feast of
Our Lady of Fátima and the 24th anniversary of the attempt on John
Paul II's life.
John Paul II often credited Our Lady of Fátima for preserving him on
that day. Cardinal Ruini inaugurated the diocesan phase of the cause for
beatification in the Lateran Basilica on 28 June 2005.
The first beatification under the new Pope was celebrated on 14 May
José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, Cardinal Prefect of the
Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The new Blesseds were
Mother Marianne Cope and
Mother Ascensión Nicol Goñi.
Clemens August Graf von Galen was beatified on 9 October 2005.
Mariano de la Mata was beatified in November 2006 and
Rosa Eluvathingal was beatified 3 December of that year, and Fr.
Basil Moreau was beatified September 2007.
In October 2008 the following beatifications took place: Celestine of
the Mother of God, Giuseppina Nicoli, Hendrina Stenmanns, Maria Rosa
Flesch, Marta Anna Wiecka,
Petrus Kibe Kasui and 187 Companions,
Susana Paz-Castillo Ramirez, Maria Isbael Salvat Romero, and
John Henry Newman.
Unlike his predecessor, Benedict XVI delegated the beatification
liturgical service to a Cardinal. On 29 September 2005, the
Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a communiqué announcing
that henceforth beatifications would be celebrated by a representative
of the Pope, usually the Prefect of that Congregation.
Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his first canonizations on 23 October
St. Peter's Square when he canonized
Alberto Hurtado SJ,
Gaetano Catanoso, and
Felice da Nicosia. The canonizations were part of a Mass that marked
the conclusion of the
General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and the
Year of the Eucharist.
Pope Benedict XVI canonized
Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia,
Mother Theodore Guerin,
Filippo Smaldone, and
Rosa Venerini on 15 October 2006.
During his visit to Brazil in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI presided over
the canonization of
Frei Galvão on 11 May, while
George Preca, founder of the
Szymon of Lipnica,
Charles of Mount Argus, and
Marie-Eugénie de Jésus were canonized in a ceremony held at the
Vatican on 3 June 2007.
Preca is the first Maltese saint since the country's conversion to
Christianity in 60 A.D. when St. Paul converted the inhabitants.
In October 2008 the following canonizations took place:
Saint Alphonsa of India,
Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran,
Maria Bernarda Bütler. In April 2009 he canonized
Nuno Álvares Pereira,
In October of the same year he canonized
Jozef Damian de Veuster,
Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński,
Francisco Coll Guitart and
Rafael Arnáiz Barón.
On 17 October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for
Saint André Bessette, a French-Canadian;
Stanislaw Soltys, a 15th-century Polish priest; Italian nuns
Giulia Salzano and
Camilla Battista da Varano; Spanish nun
Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola and an Australian nun,
On 23 October 2011, Pope Benedict XVI canonized three saints: a
Bonifacia Rodriguez y Castro, Italian archbishop
Guido Maria Conforti, and Italian priest
In December 2011, Pope Benedict formally recognized the validity of
the miracles necessary to proceed with the canonizations of
Kateri Tekakwitha, who will be the first Native American saint,
Marianne Cope, a nun working with lepers in what is now the state of
Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian priest,
Jacques Berthieu a French Jesuit priest and African martyr,
Carmen Salles y Barangueras, a Spanish nun and founder of the
Sisters of the Immaculate Conception,
Peter Calungsod, a lay catechist and martyr from the Philippines,
Anna Schaffer whose desire to be a missionary was unfulfilled on
account of her illness.
They were canonized on 21 October 2012.
Doctors of the
On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named
Hildegard of Bingen and
John of Avila
Doctors of the Church, the 34th and 35th individuals so recognised
in the history of Christianity. His predecessor had only named one
Doctor of the Church during his papacy.
Pope Benedict began downsizing the
Roman Curia when he merged four existing pontifical councils into
two in March 2006. The
Pontifical Council for Migrants was merged with the
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by
Cardinal Martino. Likewise,
Cardinal Poupard, who headed the
Pontifical Council for Culture, now also oversees the operations of
what had been the
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, though both Councils
maintained separate officials and staffs while their status and
competencies continued unchanged. In May 2007 it was decided that
Interreligious Dialogue would again become a separate body under a
different President. In June 2010 Benedict created the
Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. He
Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella as its first president.
As Pope, one of Benedict XVI's main roles is to teach about the
Catholic faith and the solutions to the problems of discerning and
living the faith,
a role that he can play well as a former head of the Church's
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The main points of emphasis
of his teachings are stated in more detail in Theology of Pope Benedict
"Friendship with Jesus Christ"
At the conclusion of his first homily as Pope, Benedict referred to
Christ and John Paul II. Citing John Paul II's well-known words, "Do
not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!", Benedict XVI said:
not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully
into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not
afraid that He might take something away from us?...And once
again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we
lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life
free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship do we
experience beauty and liberation....When we give ourselves to
Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide
the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.
Benedict XVI: "The Eucharist is the enduring presence of
Jesus' self-oblation." (Deus
"Friendship with Jesus Christ" is a frequent theme of his preaching.
He stressed that on this intimate friendship, "everything depends."
He has also said: "We are all called to open ourselves to this
friendship with God... speaking to him as to a friend, the only One who
can make the world both good and happy... That is all we have to do is
put ourselves at his disposal...is an extremely important message. It is
a message that helps to overcome what can be considered the great
temptation of our time: the claim, that after the Big Bang, God withdrew
Thus, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, his main purpose was "to
help foster [in the reader] the growth of a living relationship" with
He took up this theme in his first encyclical
Deus Caritas Est. In his personal explanation and summary of the
encyclical, he stated: "If friendship with God becomes for us something
ever more important and decisive, then we will begin to love those whom
God loves and who are in need of us. God wants us to be friends of his
friends and we can be so, if we are interiorly close to them."
Thus, he said that prayer is "urgently needed...It is time to reaffirm
the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing
secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work."
"Dictatorship of Relativism"
Continuing what he said in the pre-conclave Mass about what he has
often referred to as the "central problem of our faith today",
on 6 June 2005 Pope Benedict also said:
a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is
the massive presence in our society and culture of that
relativism which, recognising nothing as definitive, leaves
as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And
under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one,
for it separates people from one another, locking each person
into his or her own ego.
He said that "a dictatorship of relativism"
was the core challenge facing the church and humanity. At the root of
this problem, he said, is
Kant's "self-limitation of reason". This, he said, is contradictory
to the modern acclamation of science whose excellence is based on the
power of reason to know the truth. He said that this self-amputation of
reason leads to pathologies of religion such as terrorism and
pathologies of science such as
Benedict traced the failed revolutions and violent ideologies of the
20th century to a conversion of partial points of view into absolute
guides. He said "Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is
In an address to a conference of the Diocese of Rome held at the
St. John Lateran 6 June 2005, Benedict remarked on the issues of
same sex marriage and abortion:
- The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like
free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by
people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic
freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man...from here it
becomes all the more clear how contrary it is to human love, to the
profound vocation of man and woman, to systematically close their
union to the gift of life, and even worse to suppress or tamper with
the life that is born.
Christianity as religion according to reason
In the discussion with
rationalism, one of Benedict's basic ideas can be found in his
address on the "Crisis of Culture" in the West, a day before Pope John
Paul II died, when he referred to Christianity as the Religion of the
Logos (the Greek for "word", "reason", "meaning", or "intelligence"). He
the beginning, Christianity has understood itself as the
religion of the Logos, as the religion according to
reason...It has always defined men, all men without distinction,
as creatures and images of God, proclaiming for them...the same
dignity. In this connection, the
Enlightenment is of Christian origin and it is no accident
that it was born precisely and exclusively in the realm of the
Christian faith....It was and is the merit of the Enlightenment
to have again proposed these original values of Christianity and
of having given back to reason its own voice... Today, this
should be precisely [Christianity's] philosophical strength, in
so far as the problem is whether the world comes from the
irrational, and reason is not other than a 'sub-product,' on
occasion even harmful of its development—or whether the world
comes from reason, and is, as a consequence, its criterion and
goal...In the so necessary dialogue between secularists and
Catholics, we Christians must be very careful to remain faithful
to this fundamental line: to live a faith that comes from the
Logos, from creative reason, and that, because of this, is
also open to all that is truly rational.
Benedict also emphasised that "Only creative reason, which in the
crucified God is manifested as love, can really show us the way."
Pope Benedict has to date written three
Deus Caritas Est (Latin
for "God is Love"),
Salvi ("Saved by Hope"), and
Caritas in Veritate ("Love in Truth").
In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, he said that a
human being, created in the image of God who is love, is able to
practice love: to give himself to God and others (agape),
by receiving and experiencing God's love in contemplation. This life of
love, according to him, is the life of the saints such as
Teresa of Calcutta and the
Blessed Virgin Mary, and is the direction Christians take when they
believe that God loves them in Jesus Christ.
The encyclical contains almost 16,000 words in 42 paragraphs. The
first half is said to have been written by Benedict in German, his
mother tongue, in the summer of 2005; the second half is derived
from uncompleted writings left by his predecessor,
Pope John Paul II.
The document was signed by Pope Benedict on Christmas Day, 25 December
The encyclical was promulgated a month later in Latin and was translated
into English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.
It is the first encyclical to be published since the Vatican decided to
copyright in the official writings of the Pope.
Pope Benedict's second encyclical titled
Salvi ("Saved by Hope"), about the virtue of
released on 30 November 2007.
Benedict's third encyclical titled
Caritas in Veritate ("Love in Truth" or "Charity in Truth"), was
signed on 29 June 2009 (the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul) and released
on 7 July 2009.
In it, the Pope continued the Church's teachings on social justice. He
condemned the prevalent economic system "where the pernicious effects of
sin are evident," and called on people to rediscover ethics in business
and economic relations.
Post-synodal apostolic exhortation
Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity) signed 22
February 2007, released in Latin, Italian, English, French, German,
Portuguese, Spanish, and Polish. It was made available in various
languages 13 March 2007 in Rome. The English edition from Libera
Editrice Vaticana is 158 pages. This
apostolic exhortation "seeks to take up the richness and variety of
the reflections and proposals which emerged from the recent Ordinary
General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops..." which was held in 2006.
proprio on Tridentine Mass
On 7 July 2007, Benedict XVI issued the
Summorum Pontificum, declaring that upon "the request of the
faithful", celebration of
Mass according to the
Missal of 1962 (commonly known as the
Tridentine Mass), was to be more easily permitted. Stable groups who
previously had to petition their bishop to have a Tridentine Mass may
now merely request permission from their local priest.
While Summorum Pontificum directs that pastors should provide the
Tridentine Mass upon the requests of the faithful, it also allows
for any qualified priest to offer private celebrations of the Tridentine
Mass, to which the faithful may be admitted if they wish.
For regularly scheduled public celebrations of the Tridentine Mass, the
permission of the priest in charge of the church is required.
In an accompanying letter, the Pope outlined his position concerning
questions about the new guidelines.
As there were fears that the move would entail a reversal of the
Second Vatican Council,
Benedict emphasised that the Tridentine Mass would not detract from the
Council, and that the
Mass of Paul VI would still be the norm and priests were not
permitted to refuse to say the Mass in that form. He pointed out that
use of Tridentine Mass "was never juridically abrogated and,
consequently, in principle, was always permitted."
The letter also decried "deformations of the liturgy ... because in many
places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new
Missal" as the Second Vatican Council was wrongly seen "as authorising
or even requiring creativity", mentioning his own experience.
The Pope considered that allowing the Tridentine Mass to those who
request it was a means to prevent or heal
schism, stating that, on occasions in history, "not enough was done
by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity"
and that this "imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort
to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity
or to attain it anew."
Many feel the decree aimed at ending the schism between the Holy See and
traditionalist groups such as the
Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Cardinal
Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the president of the
Pontifical Commission established for the purpose of facilitating full
ecclesial communion of those associated with that Society,
stated that the decree "opened the door for their return". Bishop
Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, expressed "deep gratitude
to the Sovereign Pontiff for this great spiritual benefit".
Unicity and salvific universality of the Catholic Church
Near the end of June 2007, the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document
approved by Benedict XVI "because some contemporary theological
Vatican II's ecumenical intent had been 'erroneous or ambiguous' and
had prompted confusion and doubt."
The document has been seen as restating "key sections of a 2000 text the
pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, Dominus Iesus."
Benedict XVI has condemned excessive
consumerism, especially among youth. He stated in December 2007 that
"[A]dolescents, youths and even children are easy victims of the
corruption of love, deceived by unscrupulous adults who, lying to
themselves and to them, draw them into the dead-end streets of
In June 2009, he blamed outsourcing for greater availability of
consumer goods which lead to downsizing of social security systems.
Speaking at his weekly audience in St Peter's Square on 7 June 2006,
Pope Benedict asserted that Jesus himself had entrusted the leadership
of the Church to his apostle
Peter. "Peter's responsibility thus consists of guaranteeing the
communion with Christ," said Pope Benedict. "Let us pray so that the
primacy of Peter, entrusted to poor human beings, may always be
exercised in this original sense desired by the Lord, so that it will be
increasingly recognised in its true meaning by brothers who are still
not in communion with us."
Also in 2006, Benedict met with
Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the
Anglican Communion. In their Common Declaration, they highlighted
the previous 40 years of dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans while
also acknowledging "serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress".
Benedict has also acknowledged the
Lutheran church, saying that he has had friends in that
Dialogue with other religions
Pope Benedict is open to dialogue with other religious groups, and
has sought to improve relations with them throughout his pontificate.
He has, however, generated certain controversies in doing so.
When Benedict ascended to the Papacy his election was welcomed by the
Anti-Defamation League who noted "his great sensitivity to Jewish
history and the
However, his election received a more reserved response from the United
Kingdom's Chief Rabbi
Jonathan Sacks, who hoped that Benedict would "continue along the
path of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in working to enhance
relations with the Jewish people and the State of Israel."
The Foreign Minister of Israel also offered more tentative praise,
though the Minister believed that "this Pope, considering his historical
experience, will be especially committed to an uncompromising fight
Critics have accused Benedict's papacy of insensitivity towards
Judaism. The two most prominent instances were the expansion of the use
Tridentine Mass and the lifting of the excommunication on four
bishops from the
Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). In the Good Friday service, the
traditional Mass rubrics include a prayer that asks God to lift the veil
so they [Jews] may be delivered from their darkness. This prayer
has historically been contentious in Judaic-Catholic relations and
several groups saw the
restoration of the Tridentine Mass as problematic.
Among those whose excommunications were lifted was Bishop
Richard Williamson, an outspoken
historical revisionist sometimes interpreted as a
The lifting of his excommunication led critics to charge that the Pope
was condoning his
historical revisionist views.
Pope Benedict's relations with Islam have been strained at times. On
12 September 2006 Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture which touched on
Islam at the
University of Regensburg in Germany. The pope had previously served
as professor of
theology at the university, and his lecture was entitled "Faith,
Reason and the University—Memories and Reflections". The lecture
received much attention from political and religious authorities. Many
Islamic politicians and religious leaders registered their protest
against what they said was an insulting mischaracterisation of Islam,
although his focus was aimed towards the rationality of religious
violence, and its effect on the religion.
Muslims were particularly offended by the following quotation from the
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.
The passage originally appeared in the Dialogue Held with a
Certain Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia
written in 1391 as an expression of the views of the
Manuel II Paleologus, one of the last Christian rulers before the
Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim
Ottoman Empire, on such issues as
holy war, and the relationship between
According to the German text, the Pope's original comment was that the
emperor "addresses his interlocutor in an astoundingly harsh—to us
surprisingly harsh—way" (wendet er sich in erstaunlich schroffer, uns
überraschend schroffer Form).
Pope Benedict apologised for any offence he had caused and made a point
Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, and praying in its
Pope Benedict XVI planned on 5 March 2008, to meet with Muslim
scholars and religious leaders autumn 2008 at a Catholic-Muslim seminar
That meeting, the "First Meeting of the
Catholic-Muslim Forum," was held from 4–6 November 2008.
On 9 May 2009 H.H. Pope Benedict XVI visited the King Hussein Mosque,
Jordan where he was addressed by
H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal.
Dalai Lama congratulated Pope Benedict XVI upon his election,
and visited him in October 2006 in the Vatican City. In 2007 China was
accused of using its political influence to stop a meeting between the
Pope and the Dalai Lama.
Indigenous American beliefs
While visiting Brazil in May 2007, "the pope sparked controversy by
saying that native populations had been 'silently longing' for the
Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers."
The Pope continued, stating that "the proclamation of Jesus and of his
Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus
cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture."
President of Venezuela
Hugo Chávez demanded an apology, and an indigenous organisation in
Ecuador issued a response which stated that "representatives of the
Catholic Church of those times, with honourable exceptions, were
accomplices, deceivers and beneficiaries of one of the most horrific
genocides of all humanity."
Later, the pope, speaking Italian, said at a weekly audience that it
"not possible to forget the suffering and the injustices
inflicted by colonizers against the indigenous population, whose
fundamental human rights were often trampled."
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
While visiting the United States on 17 April 2008, Benedict met with
International Society for Krishna Consciousness representative
Radhika Ramana Dasa;
a notable Hindu scholar
and disciple of
On behalf of the Hindu American community, Radhika Ramana Dasa presented
a gift of an
Om symbol to Benedict.
As Pontiff, Benedict XVI carries out numerous Apostolic activities
including journeys across the world and in the Vatican.
Benedict travelled extensively during the first three years of his
papacy. In addition to his travels within Italy, Pope Benedict XVI has
made two visits to his homeland, Germany, one for
World Youth Day and another to visit the towns of his childhood. He
has also visited Poland and Spain, where he was enthusiastically
His visit to Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, was initially
overshadowed by the
controversy about a lecture he had given at Regensburg. His visit
was met by nationalist and Islamic protesters
and was placed under unprecedented security measures.
However, the trip went ahead and Benedict made a joint declaration with
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in an attempt to begin to heal
the rift between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
In 2007, Pope Benedict visited Brazil in order to address the
Bishops' Conference there and canonize
Friar Antônio Galvão, an 18th century
Franciscan. In June 2007, Benedict made a personal pilgrimage and
pastoral visit to
the birthplace of
St. Francis. In September, Benedict undertook a three-day visit to
during which he joined Vienna's
Chief Rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in a memorial to the 65,000
Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps.
During his stay in Austria, he also celebrated
Mass at the Marian shrine
Mariazell and visited
In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI made his
first visit to the United States since becoming pope.
He arrived in Washington, DC where he was formally received at the
White House and
met privately with U.S. President
George W. Bush.
While in Washington, the pope addressed representatives of US Catholic
universities, met with leaders of other world religions, and celebrated
Mass at the Washington Nationals'
baseball stadium with 47,000 people.
The Pope also met privately with victims of sexual abuse by priests. The
pope travelled to New York where he addressed the
United Nations General Assembly.
Also while in New York, the pope celebrated Mass at
St. Patrick's Cathedral, met with disabled children and their
families, and attended an event for Catholic youth, where he addressed
some 25,000 young people in attendance.
On the final day of the pope's visit, he visited the
World Trade Center site and later celebrated Mass at
In July 2008, the Pope travelled to Australia to attend
World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. On 19 July, in
St. Mary's Cathedral, he made an apology for child sex abuse
perpetrated by the clergy in Australia.
On 13 September 2008, at an outdoor Paris Mass attended by 250,000
people, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the modern
materialism – the world's love of power, possessions and money as a
modern-day plague, comparing it to
In 2009, he visited Africa (Cameroon
for the first time as a Pope. During his visit, he suggested that
altering sexual behavior was the answer to Africa's AIDS crisis, and
urged Catholics to reach out and convert believers in
He visited the Middle East (Jordan, Israel and Palestine) in May
Pope Benedict's main arena for pastoral activity is the Vatican
itself, his Christmas and Easter homilies and
Urbi et Orbi are delivered from St Peter's Basilica. The Vatican is
also the only regular place where the Pope travels via motor without the
protective bulletproof case common to most popemobiles. Despite the more
secure setting Pope Benedict has been victim to security risks several
times inside Vatican City. On Wednesday, 6 June 2007 during his General
Audience a man leapt across a barrier, evaded guards and nearly mounted
the Pope's vehicle, although he was stopped and Benedict seemed to be
unaware of the event. On Thursday, 24 December 2009, while Pope Benedict
was proceeding to the altar to celebrate Christmas Eve
St Peter's Basilica, a woman later identified as 25-year-old
Susanna Maiolo, who holds Italian and Swiss citizenships, jumped the
barrier and grabbed the pope by his
vestments and pulled him to the ground. The 82-year-old fell but was
assisted to his feet and he continued to proceed towards the altar to
Roger Etchegaray, 87, the vice-dean of the
College of Cardinals, fell also and suffered a hip fracture. Italian
police reported that the woman had previously attempted to accost the
Pope at the previous Christmas Eve Mass, but was prevented from doing
Pope Benedict XVI in
homily, Pope Benedict forgave Susanna Maiolo
and urged the world to "wake up" from selfishness and petty affairs, and
find time for God and spiritual matters.
Between 17 and 18 April, Pope Benedict made an Apostolic Journey to
the Republic of
Following meetings with various dignitaries on his first day on the
island, 50,000 people gathered in a
for Papal Mass on the granaries in
Floriana. The Pope also met with the
Maltese youth at the
Valletta Waterfront, where an estimated 10,000 young people turned
up to greet him.
During his visit the Pope was moved to tears while expressing his shame
at cases of abuse on the island during a 20-minute meeting with victims.
Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church
Prior to 2001, the primary responsibility for investigating
allegations of sexual abuse and disciplining perpetrators rested with
the individual dioceses. In 2001, Ratzinger convinced John Paul II to
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in charge of all
investigations and policies surrounding sexual abuse in order to combat
such abuse more efficiently.
John L. Allen, Jr., Ratzinger in the following years "acquired a
familiarity with the contours of the problem that virtually no other
figure in the Catholic Church can claim" and "driven by that encounter
with what he would later refer to as 'filth' in the Church, Ratzinger
seems to have undergone something of a 'conversion experience'
throughout 2003–04. From that point forward, he and his staff seemed
driven by a convert's zeal to clean up the mess".
In his role as Head of the CDF, he "led important changes made in Church
law: the inclusion in canon law of internet offences against children,
the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all
under 18, the case by case waiving of the statute of limitation and the
establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for
As the Head of the CDF, Ratzinger developed a reputation for handling
these cases. According to Charles J. Scicluna, a former prosecutor
handling sexual abuse cases, "Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom
and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage
in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, sine
acceptione personarum (without exceptions)".
One of the cases Ratzinger pursued involved Father
Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest and founder of the
Legion of Christ, who had been accused repeatedly of sexual abuse.
Biographer Andrea Tornielli suggested that Cardinal Ratzinger had wanted
to take action against Marcial Maciel Degollado, but that John Paul II
and other high-ranking officials, including several cardinals and
notably the pope's influential secretary
Stanisław Dziwisz, prevented him from doing so.
Angelo Sodano "pressured" Cardinal Ratzinger, who was "operating on
the assumption that the charges were not justified", to halt the
proceedings against Maciel in 1999
When Maciel was honored by the Pope in 2004, new accusers came forward
and Cardinal Ratzinger "took it on himself to authorize an investigation
After Ratzinger became pope he began proceedings against Maciel and the
Legion of Christ that forced Maciel out of active service in the
On 1 May 2010 the Vatican issued a statement denouncing Maciel's "very
serious and objectively immoral acts", which were "confirmed by
incontrovertible testimonies" and represent "true crimes and manifest a
life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment." Pope Benedict
also said he would appoint a special commission to examine the
Legionaries’ constitution and open an investigation into its lay
Christoph Schönborn explained that Ratzinger "made entirely clear
efforts not to cover things up but to tackle and investigate them. This
was not always met with approval in the Vatican".
According to Schönborn, Cardinal Ratzinger had pressed John Paul II to
Hans Hermann Groër, an Austrian cardinal and friend of John Paul
accused of sexual abuse, resulting in Groër's resignation.
In March 2010, the Pope sent a Pastoral Letter to the Catholic Church
in Ireland addressing cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to
minors, expressing sorrow, and promising changes in the way accusations
of abuse are dealt with.
Victim groups claim the letter failed to clarify if secular law
enforcement has priority over canon law confidentiality pertaining to
internal investigation of abuse allegations.
The Pope then promised to introduce measures that would 'safeguard young
people in the future' and 'bring to justice' priests who were
responsible for abuse.
In April, the Vatican issued guidelines on how existing Church law
should be implemented. The guideline dictates that "Civil law concerning
reporting of crimes... should always be followed."
The guideline was intended to follow the norms established by U.S.
bishops, but it does not require the reporting of "allegations" or
crimes where reporting is not required by law.
Pope Benedict XVI has re-introduced several
papal garments which had previously fallen into disuse. Pope
Benedict XVI resumed the use of the traditional red
papal shoes, which had not been used since early in the pontificate
of Pope John Paul II. Contrary to the initial speculation of the press
that the shoes had been made by the Italian fashion house
Vatican announced that the shoes were provided by the pope's
On 21 December 2005, the pope once only wore the
the traditional red papal hat usually worn in the winter. It had not
been seen since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII (1958–1963). On 6
September 2006 the pope began wearing the red
cappello romano (also called a saturno), a wide-brimmed hat for
outdoor use. Rarely used by John Paul II, it was more widely worn by his
Prior to his election as Pope in 2005, Ratzinger had hoped to
retire—on account of age-related health problems, a long-held desire to
have free time to write, and the retirement age for bishops (75)—and
submitted his resignation as Prefect of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith three times, but continued at his post in
obedience to the wishes of Pope John Paul II. In September 1991,
Ratzinger suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which slightly impaired his
eyesight temporarily but he recovered completely.
This was never officially made public—the official news was that
Ratzinger had fallen and struck his head against a radiator—but was an
open secret known to the Conclave that elected him Pope.
Since his election in April 2005 there were several rumors about the
Pope's health, but none of them was confirmed. Early in his pontificate
Benedict XVI predicted a short reign, which led to concerns about his
In May 2005 the Vatican announced that he had suffered another mild
stroke. French Cardinal
Philippe Barbarin said that since the first stroke Ratzinger had
been suffering from an age-related heart condition, for which he was on
medication. In late November 2006 Vatican insiders told the
international press that the Pope had had a routine examination of the
A few days later an unconfirmed rumor emerged that Pope Benedict had
undergone an operation in preparation for an eventual bypass operation,
but this rumor was only published by a small left-wing Italian newspaper
and was never confirmed by any Vatican insider.
On 17 July 2009 Benedict was hospitalized after falling and breaking
his right wrist while on vacation in the Alps; his injuries were
reported to be minor.
Following the announcement of his resignation, the Vatican revealed
that Pope Benedict had been fitted with a pacemaker while he was still a
cardinal, before his election as pope in 2005. The battery in the
pacemaker had been replaced three months earlier, a routine procedure,
but that did not influence the decision.
On 11 February 2013, the Vatican confirmed Pope Benedict would
resign the papacy on 28 February 2013 as a result of his advanced
age, becoming the first pope to resign since
Gregory XII in 1415.
The move was considered unexpected.
In modern times, all popes have stayed in office until death. Benedict
will be the first Pope to have resigned voluntarily since
Pope Celestine V in 1294.
In a statement, Benedict cited his deteriorating strength and the
physical and mental demands of the papacy;
Cardinals in Latin, Benedict gave a brief statement announcing his
resignation. He also declared that he would continue to serve the church
"through a life dedicated to prayer".
According to a statement from the Vatican the timing of the
resignation was not caused by any specific illness but was to "avoid
that exhausting rush of Easter engagements".
According to the Vatican spokesperson
Federico Lombardi Pope Benedict XVI will leave Vatican City after
his resignation for the papal summer residence of
Castel Gandolfo. After its adaption he will reside at the monastery
Mater Ecclesiae located in the
Papal conclave is not expected to begin until the resignation takes
effect on 28 February, with Vatican spokesman Father
Federico Lombardi saying he expects the conclave will only take
between two and three weeks to conclude, allowing a new Pope to be in
place before Easter.
Titles and styles
The official style of the Pope is His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI;
in Latin, Benedictus XVI, Episcopus Romae.
However, his rarely used full title is: His Holiness Pope Benedict
Bishop of Rome,
Vicar of Christ,
Successor of the Prince of the Apostles,
Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church,
Primate of Italy,
Metropolitan of the Roman province,
Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City,
Servant of the Servants of God.
Before 1 March 2006, the list of titles also used to contain that of
of the West", which traditionally appeared in that list of titles
before "Primate of Italy". The title of "Patriarch of the West" was
first adopted in the year 642 by
Pope Theodore I, but was rarely used since the
East-West Schism of 1054. From the Orthodox perspective, authority
in the Church could be traced to the five patriarchates of Rome,
Jerusalem. However, some Catholic theologians have argued that the
term "Patriarch of the West" has no clear historical or theological
basis and was introduced into the papal court in 1870 at the time of the
First Vatican Council. Pope Benedict chose to remove the title at a
time when discussions with the Orthodox churches have centered on the
Arms of Pope Benedict XVI
Gules, chape in or, with the scallop shell of the
second; the dexter chape with a moor's head in
natural colour, crowned and collared of the first,
the sinister chape a bear trippant in natural
colour, carrying a pack gules belted sable
: The symbolism of the scallop
shell is multiple; one reference is to
. While a doctoral candidate in
1953, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger wrote his dissertation on
The People of God and the House of God in
Augustine's Teaching is always about the Church, and
therefore has a personal connection with the thought
of this great Doctor of the Church.
Moor of Freising
: The Moor's head is an
heraldic charge associated with Freising, Germany.
: A legend states that while
travelling to Rome,
's pack horse was killed by a
bear. He commanded the bear to carry the load. Once
he arrived, he released it from his service, and it
returned to Bavaria. The implication is that
"Christianity tamed and domesticated the ferocity of
paganism and thus laid the foundations for a great
civilisation in the Duchy of Bavaria." At the same
time, Corbinian's bear, as God's beast of burden,
symbolises the weight of office that Benedict now
Positions on moral and political issues
control and HIV/AIDS
In 2005, the Pope listed several ways to combat the spread of HIV,
including chastity, fidelity in marriage and anti-poverty efforts; he
also rejected the use of condoms.
The alleged Vatican investigation of whether there are any cases when
married persons may use condoms to protect against the spread of
infections surprised many Catholics in the wake of John Paul II's
consistent refusal to consider condom use in response to AIDS.
However, the Vatican has since stated that no such change in the
Church's teaching can occur.
TIME also reported in its 30 April 2006 edition that the
Vatican's position remains what it always has been with Vatican
officials "flatly dismiss[ing] reports that the Vatican is about to
release a document that will condone any condom use."
In March 2009, the Pope stated:
- I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome
merely with money, necessary though it is. If there is no human
dimension, if Africans do not help, the problem cannot be
overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary,
they increase it. The solution must have two elements: firstly,
bringing out the human dimension of sexuality, that is to say a
spiritual and human renewal that would bring with it a new way
of behaving towards others, and secondly, true friendship
offered above all to those who are suffering, a willingness to
make sacrifices and to practise self-denial, to be alongside the
In November 2010, in a book-length interview, the Pope, using the
example of male prostitutes, stated that the use of condoms, with the
intention of reducing the risk of HIV infection, may be an indication
that the prostitute is intending to reduce the evil connected with his
or her immoral activity.
In the same interview, the Pope also reiterated the traditional teaching
of the Church that condoms are not seen as a "real or moral solution" to
HIV/AIDS pandemic. Further, in December 2010, the
Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith explained that the Pope's
statement did not constitute a legitimization of either prostitution or
contraception, both of which remain gravely immoral.
During his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith (CDF), Benedict XVI made several efforts to tackle the issue
of homosexuality within the Church and the wider world. In 1986 the CDF
sent a letter to all bishops entitled:
On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. The letter condemned
a liberal interpretation of the earlier CDF document Declaration on
Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, which had led to a
"benign" attitude "to the homosexual condition itself". On the
Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons clarified that the Church's
position on homosexuality was that "although the particular inclination
of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong
tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the
inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."
However the document also condemned homophobic attacks and violence,
stating that "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are
the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment
deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs."
In 1992 he again approved CDF documents declaring that homosexual
"inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder" and extended
this principle to civil law. "Sexual orientation", the document said,
was not equivalent to race or ethnicity, and it declared that it was
"not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account."
On 22 December 2008, the Pope gave an end of year message to the
Roman Curia in which he talked about gender and the important
distinction between men and women. The pope said that the church viewed
the distinction as central to human nature, and "asks that this order,
set down by creation, be respected". He characterised gender roles which
deviated from his view of what gender roles should be as "a violation of
the natural order". The church, he said, "should protect man from the
destruction of himself". He said a sort of ecology of man was needed,
adding: "The tropical forests do deserve our protection; but man, as a
creature, does not deserve any less." He attacked what he described as
gender theories which "lead towards the self-emancipation of man from
creation and the creator".
groups such as the Italian
and German LSVD
have announced that they found the Pope's comments homophobic.
Aurelio Mancuso, head of Arcigay, saying "A divine programme for men and
women is out of line with nature, where the roles are not so clear."
Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, claimed the Pope had not
wished specifically to attack homosexuality, and had not mentioned gays
or lesbians in his text. Father Lombardi insisted, however, that there
had been an overreaction to the Pope's remarks. "He was speaking more
generally about gender theories which overlook the fundamental
difference in creation between men and women and focus instead on
cultural conditioning." Nevertheless, the remarks were interpreted as a
call to save mankind from homosexuals and transsexuals.
During a 2012 Christmas speech,
the Pope made remarks about the present-day interpretation of the notion
He stated that "sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has
to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we
choose for ourselves", and "The words of the creation account: “male and
female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply". Although he didn't
mention the topic, his words were interpreted by news media as
with some sources adding that Benedict would have called it a threat to
world peace similar to abortion and euthanasia.
In March 2012, he stated that heterosexual marriages should be defended
from "every possible misrepresentation of their true nature".
In a message released 14 November 2006, during a Vatican press
conference for the 2007 annual observance of
World Day for Migrants and Refugees, the pope urged the ratification
of international conventions and policies that defend all migrants,
internally displaced persons. "The church encourages the
ratification of the international legal instruments that aim to defend
the rights of migrants, refugees and their families," the pope said.
"Much is already being done for the integration of the families of
immigrants, although much still remains to be done."
Pope Benedict has also promoted various UN events, such as
World Refugee Day, on which he offered up special prayers for
refugees and called for the international community to do more to secure
refugees' human rights. He also called on Catholic communities and
organizations to offer them concrete help.
In 2007 Benedict sent a letter at Easter to Catholics in China that
could have wide-ranging implications for the church's relationship with
China's leadership. The letter provides long-requested guidance to
Chinese bishops on how to respond to illicitly ordained bishops, as well
as how to strengthen ties with the
Patriotic Association and the Communist government.
On 13 November 2006, Benedict said the dispute over the
North Korea nuclear weapons program should be resolved through
negotiations, in his first public comment on the security issue, a news
report said. "The Holy See encourages bilateral or multilateral
negotiations, convinced that the solution must be sought through
peaceful means and in respect for agreements taken by all sides to
obtain the denuclearisation of the
Korean Peninsula." Benedict was talking to the new Japanese
ambassador to the Vatican.
In a 2004
Figaro interview, Ratzinger said that Turkey, which is
demographically Muslim but governmentally
secular by virtue of its state constitution, should seek its future
in an association of
Muslim nations rather than the European Union, which Ratzinger has
stated has Christian roots. He said Turkey had always been "in permanent
contrast to Europe and that linking it to Europe would be a mistake".
Later visiting the country to "reiterate the solidarity between the
cultures," it was reported that he made a counter-statement backing
Turkey's bid to join the EU. Prime Minister of Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that the pope told him in their meeting
that while the Vatican seeks to stay out of politics it desires Turkey's
membership in the EU.
However, the Common Declaration of Pope Benedict XVI and
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople implied that support for
Turkey's membership in the European Union would be contingent on the
establishment of religious freedom in Turkey:
"In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with
their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their
The Declaration also reiterates Pope Benedict XVI's call for Europe to
preserve its Christian roots.
In May 2009 he visited Israel.
This was the third Papal visit to the Holy Land, the previous ones being
made by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and Pope John Paul II in 2000.
Pope Benedict XVI and Prime Minister
Nguyễn Tấn Dũng met at the Vatican on 25 January 2007 in a "new and
important step towards establishing diplomatic ties".
The Pope met with
Nguyễn Minh Triết on 11 December 2009. Vatican officials called the
meeting "a significant stage in the progress of bilateral relations with
In 2009 the Pope intervened in global economic and political affairs
with his third encyclical,
Charity in Truth (Latin
Caritas in Veritate), which can be viewed on the Vatican's web
The document sets out the Pope's position on the case for worldwide
redistribution of wealth in considerable detail and goes on to discuss
the environment, migration, terrorism, sexual tourism, bioethics, energy
and population issues. The Financial Times has reported that the
Pope's advocacy for a fairer redistribution of wealth has helped set the
agenda for the 2009 July G8 summit.
Also included in Charity in Truth is advocacy for
- One possible approach to development aid would be to apply
effectively what is known as fiscal subsidiarity, allowing citizens
to decide how to allocate a portion of the taxes they pay to the
State. Provided it does not degenerate into the promotion of special
interests, this can help to stimulate forms of welfare solidarity
from below, with obvious benefits in the area of solidarity for
development as well.
Pope Benedict XVI has called for
nuclear disarmament. At the same time, he has supported the peaceful
use of nuclear energy as a tool for development and the fight against
poverty. In his message for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, he confirmed: "The Holy See,
fully approving of the IAEA's goal, has been a member from the
organisation's foundation and continues to support its activity."
Pope Benedict XVI after a musical concert offered to his
honor. circa 2008.
Pope Benedict is known to be deeply interested in classical music,
and is an accomplished pianist.
He has a grand piano in his papal quarters. The Pontiff's favorite
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, of whose music the Pope said: "His music is
by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human
Benedict also stated that Mozart's music affected him greatly as a young
man and "deeply penetrated his soul."
Benedict's favorite works of music are Mozart's
Clarinet Concerto and
Pope Benedict has recorded an album of contemporary classical music
in which Benedict sings and recites prayers to the
Blessed Virgin Mary.
The album was set for release on 30 November 2009.
Pope Benedict is also known to be fond of cats.
As Cardinal Ratzinger he was known (according to former neighbours) to
cats in his neighbourhood. A book called Joseph and Chico: A Cat
Recounts the Life of Pope Benedict XVI was published in 2007 which
told the story of the Pope's life from the feline Chico's perspective.
This story was inspired by an orange tabby
Pentling cat, which belonged to the family next door.
During his trip to Australia for
World Youth Day in 2008 the media reported that festival organizers
lent the Pope a grey cat called Bella
in order to keep him company during his stay.
In December 2012, the Vatican announced Benedict had joined social
networking website Twitter, under the handle @Pontifex.
His first tweet was made on 12 December and was "Dear friends, I am
pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your
generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."
Honours and awards
- This article incorporates information from
the equivalent article on the
Pope Benedict is Grand Master of the following Orders:
Supreme Order of Christ,
Order of the Golden Spur,
Order of Pius IX,
Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great and the
Order of St. Sylvester.
- 1977 Grand Cross of the National
Order of Merit of the Republic of Ecuador
- 1977 Knight Grand Cross of the
Bavarian Order of Merit
Grand Merit Cross with Star and Sash of the Federal Republic of
- 1985 Constitutional Medal of the
Bavarian State Parliament in Gold
Ordine della Minerva at the
University of Chieti
Augustin Bea Prize (Rome)
Leopold Kunschak Prize (Vienna)
Georg von Hertling Medal of
Kartellverband katholischer deutscher Studentenvereine
Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the
Republic of Austria
- 1992 Literature
Prize Capri S. Michele in
Premio Internazionale di Cultura Cattolica,
Bassano del Grappa
- 1993 literary prize
Premio Letterario Basilicata per la Letteratura e Poesia religiosa
Spirituale in Potenza (Italy)
- 1996 Knight of the
Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art
- 1998 Commander of the
Legion of Honour (Legion d'Honneur) (France)
- 1999 Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- 2004 Literature Prize Capri S. Michele in Anacapri
- Honorary doctorates
College of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; Honorary Doctor
of Human Letters)
Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (Pontifical Catholic
University of Peru)
Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski (Catholic University of Lublin,
University of Navarra (Pamplona, Spain)
Libera Università Maria SS Assunta Roma (Maria SS Assunta Free
University, Rome) (honorary degree in law)
Uniwersytet Wrocławski (University of Wroclaw, Poland; Honorary
Doctor of Theology)
- 2005 Universatea Babes-Bolyai in
- Honorary citizenships
Pentling, near Regensburg, location of his main German residence
Traunstein, location of the school and the study seminar he
Regensburg, worked as a full, later as a visiting, professor
Aschau am Inn, started school and received Mass for the first
Tittmoning, where he spent part of his childhood.
where he holidayed several times as a Cardinal and as Pope
Mariazell, whose sanctuary he visited in 2007 as Pope
Aosta Valley, where he spent some of his summer holidays in
2005, 2006 and 2009
Freising, where he studied, was ordained a priest in 1951, where
he served from 1954–1957 lecturer at the Philosophical and
Theological College and worked from 1977 to 1982 as archbishop of
Munich and Freising
South Tyrol; Benedict's grandmother Maria Tauber Peintner and
his great-grandmother Elisabeth Maria Tauber both come from
8661 Ratzinger was dedicated to him, on the grounds of making
accessible the Vatican archives and thus allow the historians to
investigate miscarriages of justice against Galileo and other scientists
in the Middle Ages.
Pope Benedict is an
honorary citizen of
Pope Benedict XVI has written 66 books. The following is a list of
books written by Pope Benedict XVI arranged chronologically by
English first edition. The original German first edition publication
year is included in parentheses.
- Theological Highlights of
Vatican II. New York: Paulist Press. 1966 (1963).
Introduction to Christianity. London: Burns & Oats. 1968
- Faith and Future.
Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press. 1971 (1970).
- The God of Jesus Christ:
Meditations on the Triune God. Chicago: Franciscan Herald
Press. 1978 (1977).
- Daughter Zion: Meditations on
the Church's Marian Belief. Chicago: Franciscan Herald
Press. 1983 (1977).
- Dogma and Preaching.
Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press. 1985 (1973).
- Principles of Christian
Morality. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1986 (1975).
- Feast of Faith: Approaches to
a Theology of the Liturgy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of
the Church. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1986 (1985).
- Seek That Which Is Above:
Meditations through the Year. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
- Behold the Pierced One: An
Approach to a Spiritual Christology. San Francisco: Ignatius
Press. 1986 (1984).
- The Blessing of Christmas:
Meditations for the Season. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
- Principles of Catholic
Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology. San
Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1987 (1982).
Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life. Washington DC:
Catholic University of America Press. 1988 (1977).
- Church, Ecumenism and
Politics: New Essays in Ecclesiology. New York: Crossroad.
- Ministers of Your Joy:
Scriptural Meditations on Priestly Spirituality. Ann Arbor:
Redeemer Books. 1989 (1988).
- The Theology of History in
St. Bonaventure. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press. 1989
- To Look on Christ: Exercises
in Faith, Hope, and Love. New York: Crossroad. 1991 (1989).
- A Turning Point for Europe?.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1994 (1991).
- The Nature and Mission of
Theology: Essays to Orient Theology in Today's Debates. San
Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1995 (1993).
- In the Beginning...: A
Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing. 1995 (1986).
- Called to Communion:
Understanding the Church Today. San Francisco: Ignatius
Press. 1996 (1991).
- A New Song for the Lord:
Faith in Christ in Liturgy Today. New York: Crossroad. 1997
Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1997 (1996).
- Milestones: Memoirs 1927–1977.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1998 (1997).
- Many Religions, One Covenant:
Israel, the Church, and the World. San Francisco: Ignatius
Press. 1999 (1997).
The Spirit of the Liturgy. San Francisco: Ignatius
Press. 2000 (2000).
- God and the World. San
Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2002 (2000).
- God Is Near Us: The
Eucharist, the Heart of Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2004 (2003).
Introduction to Christianity (revised edition). San
Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2004 (1968).
- Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith:
The Church as Communion. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2005
- Compendium of the Catechism
of the Catholic Church. Washington DC: United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops. 2005.
- Mary: The Church at the
Source. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2005 (1997).
- Way of the Cross. Boston:
Pauline Books & Media. 2005.
- On the Way to Jesus Christ.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2005.
- Christianity and the Crisis
of Cultures. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2006 (2005).
- Handing on the Faith in an
Age of Disbelief. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2006
- Images of Hope: Meditations
on Major Feasts. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2006 (1997).
- God's Revolution: Pope
Benedict XVI's Cologne Talks. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
- Values in a Time of Upheaval.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2006 (2004).
- God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2006 (2006).
- What It Means to Be a
Christian. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2006 (1965).
- Without Roots: The West,
Relativism, Christianity, Islam. San Francisco: Basic Books.
- On Conscience. San
Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2007 (1984).
- Europe: Today and Tomorrow.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2007 (2004).
- New Outpourings of the Spirit.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2007 (2006).
Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Doubleday. 2007 (2007).
- Jesus, the Apostles, and the
Early Church. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2007.
- God's Word: Scripture,
Tradition, Office. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2008
- Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2008 (2007).
- The Fathers. Huntington:
Our Sunday Visitor. 2008.
- Church Fathers: From Clement
of Rome to Augustine. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2008.
- Charity in Truth: Caritas in
Veritate. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2009 (2009).
- Saint Paul. Huntington:
Our Sunday Visitor. 2009 (2009).
- The Joy of Knowing Christ:
Meditations on the Gospels. Frederick: Word Among Us Press.
- Light of the World: The Pope,
The Church, and the Signs of the Times. San Francisco:
Ignatius Press. 2010.
- The Fathers, Volume II.
Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor. 2010.
- The Apostles. Huntington:
Our Sunday Visitor. 2010.
- The Virtues. Huntington:
Our Sunday Visitor. 2010.
- Great Teachers.
Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor. 2011.
- Holiness Is Always in Season.
San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2011.
Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week. Huntington: Our Sunday
- Holy Women. Huntington:
Our Sunday Visitor. 2011.
- Doctors of the Church.
Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor. 2011.
Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. Colorado
Springs: Image Books. 2012.