Pope Benedict XVI He went down in the history of the Catholic Church for his unexpected resignation from the Pontificate on February 28, 2013, in an event that shocked the Vatican and brought Argentine Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy.
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His resignation was the first in 598 years. in the Vatican. The last Pope to resign had been Gregory XII in 1415.
Joseph Aloisius Ratzingerhis real name, was born on April 16, 1927 in Bavaria, Germany, and as a young man was sent to the seminary of St. Michael in Traunstein.
The Second World War, the most questioned chapter in the life of Benedict XVI
However, the outbreak of World War II led him to the war at just 16 years old as an assistant to the anti-aircraft batteries. His participation in the conflict in the German army during Nazism was the trigger for strong questions and complaints when he assumed the Pontificate.
His detractors accused him of having integrated the youth organization hitlerjugend since 1936. But by the German Youth Law the affiliation to this group was compulsory until the age of eighteen.
After the end of the war he was taken prisoner. Then, at the age of 18, he returned to the seminary and studied Theology at the universities of Freising and Munich.
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Six years later, on June 29, 1951, he was ordained a priest together with his brother Georg in Freising Cathedral. Her first mass was celebrated in the parish of Saint Oswald in Traunstein on July 30 of that year.
A year later he assumed the position of professor at the seminary.
The academic world opened its doors to him and he became a professor at the Universities of Bonn, Münster, Tübingen and Regensburg. He was even an adviser to the Cardinal of Cologne.
Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop of Munich
Ratzinger was consecrated Archbishop of Munich and Freising on March 24, 1977. On June 27 of that same year, the then Pope Paul VI named him a cardinal with the title of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino.
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Shortly after, after the assumption of Pope John Paul II, he became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on November 25, 1981.
His role generated controversy for his writings on homosexuality and the prohibition to teach theologians of Liberation Theology, such as Hans Kung or the Brazilian Leonardo Boff.
His assumption of the papacy after the death of John Paul II
Following the death of John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005. He chose to call himself Benedict XVI and became the eighth German pontiff. In the progressive sectors of the Catholic Church he was branded as a conservative and some denounced an alleged Nazi past that was never verified.
During his pontificate he made numerous trips, especially to the former Auschwitz death camp. But his pontificate was marked by complaints and scandals about sexual abuse in the clergy. In this framework, he apologized to the victims for the years of silence of the Church.
With the passage of time his state of health deteriorated dramatically. On February 24, 2013, he resigned from his position and became pope emeritus. “I do not abandon the Church, I will serve it in another way”he explained in his last angelus.
In his replacement Jorge Bergoglio assumed the papacy, under the name of Francisco. Since then, Ratzinger has lived away from public life and only a few letters have emerged – including one in which he apologized for the abuse of children by priests when he was Archbishop of Munich – and several meetings with his successor.
In recent times, his health deteriorated dramatically and Francis asked for a “special prayer” to be spoken for him.