curriculum vitae

Childhood and youth – Travels between Inn and Salzach
Joseph Ratzinger was born as the third child to Josef and Maria Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn. On April 16th 1927, a Holy Saturday, he was born into a simple and humble life. His childhood was characterized by a loving and deeply Christian family. He experienced „friendly, colourful, human Christianity", he remembers in his autobiography "from my life".
The father, a gendarme, was relocated several times. In 1929 the family moved to Tittmoning at the Salzach river, there Joseph went to the kindergarten of the former Augustinian monastery. The end of 1932 yet another move brought the family to Aschau am Inn. Five-year old Joseph went to school there and received the first Holy communion on the assumption of Mary in the late gothic parish church. Together with Brother Georg he took piano lessons from the Franciscans in the nearby monastery Au. Until today, the brothers are joined through the mutual love of music.
After the father retired, the family moved to Traunstein, where they bought a small farmhouse. When he was twelve years old, Joseph followed his brother Georg into the study seminar St. Michael in Traunstein, "with great expectations", as he wrote in his autobiography. The two brothers commenced on their path to Priesthood in the study seminar specifically focussed on the promotion of priest occupation.
 
In the shadow of the Third Reich
Joseph Ratzinger was 16 when he experienced the destruction of the Bavarian capital Munich. In 1943 he was called in as a helper together with other seminarists. Shortly before the end of the war, Ratzinger decided „to go home“, as it is said in his autobiography. He deserted the war and knew of the risk he took upon himself. Two soldiers who were also „tired of the war“ let Joseph go, who had suffered a wound to his arm. He was an American prisoner of war until he held the „release certificate in his joyful hands“ on June 19th, 1945, with which the end of the war became reality also for him.
 
From pastor to professor and cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger commenced his theological studies in 1946, at first at the philosophical-theological college in Feising, then at the University of Munich. On June 29th, 1951 he received the ordination of priests through cardinal Michael Fualhaber together with his brother Georg and 38 other deacons. After a short but intensive period of pastoral work in the Munich city parish, he made the decision to pursue a scientific career. He graduated in 1953 with a work about the topic "People and house of God in Austins teaching of the Church". Four years later, at 30, he became professor for dogmatism at the philosophical technological College in Freising. During his academic career he taught at the Universities in Bonn, Münster, Tübingen and Regensburg. In 1962 the young theology professor Ratzinger accompanied Josef Frings from Cologne to II. Vatican Council and became one of the most important council advisors and council theologists. On March 25th, 1977 Pope Paul VI. appointed the theology professor and internationally renowned theologist from Regensburg as Arch bishop of Munich and Freising and thus as a successor of  Cardinal Julius Döpfner. He was consecrated as bishop in the Liebfrauen Dome in Munich on May 28th, 1977, one Saturday prior to Whitsun. As his guidance, he choose a passage from the bible works: „Cooperatores veritatis – Workers of the truth“. On June 27th, 1977 Pope Paul VI. accepted him into the collegiate of cardinals.
 
The calling to Rome
On November 25th, 1981, Pope Johannes Paul II. called him to Rome as curia cardinal and appointed him as prefect of the Roman congregation of faith. In this task he was one of the closest workers of the Pope for more than two decades. During this time, the new catechism of the Catholic Church appeared, an on-point summary of the catholic faith that became a worldwide bestseller. From 2002 to 2005 he also was deacon of the collegiate of the cardinals.
 
Habemus Papam
On April 19th, 2005 the cardinals authorized to vote elected the cardinal deacon Joseph Ratzinger as successor of Pope Johannes Paul II. who had passed away on April 2nd, 2005. The 265th successor of Saint Peter took on the name Benedict XVI. The message triggered great agreement and acknowledgment all over the world, and joy and hope especially in Germany. After 482 years a German once again took a seat on the chair of Peter.
The new Pope already made clear in his first statement that he intended to continue the spiritual and metal inheritance of Johannes Paul II. With his first encyclica "Deus caritas est – God is Love" published on December 25, 2005 he included own accents that provoked a great positive international response.
 
The papal name Benedict
Benedict is not only the name of the new Pope, but also a program. In translation, Benedictus means "the blessed". With the decision for this name, the pope indicated which traditions he wants to follows. The name is reminiscent of the great order, the father of the western monasticism and patron of Europe, Saint Benedict and "Ora et labora – Pray and work" stated in the rules of the Benedicts. The Bavarian home of the pope is a country influenced and blessed by the work of the Benedict Order. Te last pope with this name, Benedikt XV. (1914-1922), promoted peace and reconciliation during the first world war. He also was an admonisher to social reformations. 90 years ago, in the middle of he first world war, Benedict XV. appointed the Mother of God, Mary as main patron of all of Bavaria at the request of the Bavarian King Ludwig III. and queen Maria Theresia. This way the beginning of the celebration of the "Patrona Bavariae".
 
The pope in his homeland
Pope Benedict XVI. visited his Bavarian home from September  9 – 14th, 2006. Hundreds and thousands welcomed the pope in Munich, Altötting and Marktl and Regensburg. September 11th with the visit to Altötting and Marktl was day of homecoming to the very personal roots for the pope. Like a large family, approximately 60 000 enthusiastic believers welcomed him „home“ on the chapel square and the surrounding areas. The prayer in the chapel of mercy, the eucharistic celebration on the chapel square the moments of praise in the new chapel and the vesper in the basilica: Looking back, Altötting seems to have been the religious-spiritual focus of the entire pastoral trip. For the city of Marktl, the visit of the pope was an extraordinary event. Benedict XVI. entered the parish church St. Oswald where he was accepted into the community of believers by baptism on his birthday, April 16th, 1927 and prayed  at the baptism basin together with his brother Georg, The family took the baptism with the newly consecrated Easter water as a special sign. The pope was always thankful that his life was immersed in the secret of Easter from the very beginning.