Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Fast Facts
Here’s a look at Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s life.
Birth date: April 16, 1927
Birth place: Marktl am Inn, Germany
Birth name: Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger
Father: Joseph Ratzinger, a police officer
Mother: Maria Ratzinger
Education: University of Munich, PhD Theology, 1953
Religion: Roman Catholic
The first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
Served as chief theological adviser to Pope John Paul II.
Positions held: Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission and Dean of the College of Cardinals
As dean of the College of Cardinals, it was his duty to call the cardinals to Rome for conclave after the death of Pope John Paul II.
Is an accomplished pianist and loves Mozart.
1945 – During World War II, he deserts the German army and is taken prisoner by the US Army.
June 29, 1951 – Is ordained as a priest.
1959-1969 – Teaches theology at various colleges in Germany.
1969 – Vice president and professor of theology at the University of Regensburg in Germany.
March 1977 – Is named Archbishop of Munich and Freising and is consecrated on May 28, 1977.
June 27, 1977 – Is made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI.
November 25, 1981 – Is named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; President of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.
November 6, 1998 – Is elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals.
November 30, 2002 – Is named the dean of the College of Cardinals.
April 19, 2005 – Is elected the 265th pope by 115 cardinals.
April 24, 2005 – His inaugural Mass takes place.
August 19, 2005 – Becomes the second pope in history to visit a synagogue when he speaks at the Roonstrasse Synagogue in Cologne, Germany.
January 25, 2006 – Issues his first encyclical, focusing on the subjects of love, eros, charity and politics.
March 24, 2006 – Holds his first consistory and formally elevates 15 men to the level of cardinal. The next day, a ceremony is held in Saint Peter’s Square in which the pope presents each of the new cardinals with a golden ring to symbolize their fidelity to the church.
May 25, 2006 – Travels to Poland to pay homage to the late Pope John Paul II. He visits John Paul’s birth home in Wadowice, and travels to Krakow, the city where John Paul II lived before he assumed the papacy in 1978. Benedict XVI also visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
September 12-20, 2006 – Gives a speech in Bavaria, Germany, that includes quotes from 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, regarding Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The speech sparks protests by Muslims around the world and causes the recall of the Moroccan envoy to the Vatican. The pope apologizes for the offense to the Muslim world.
November 28, 2006 – Arrives in Turkey for his first visit as pope.
May 9, 2007 – Arrives in Brazil for a six-day visit, his first as pope.
September 7-9, 2007 – The pope travels to Austria for the 850th anniversary of the Mariazell shrine.
October 28, 2007 – The pope beatifies 498 victims of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. It is the largest mass beatification in history.
November 24, 2007 – Elevates 23 senior clergy to the position of cardinal.
April 15-20, 2008 – Visits the United States for the first time as pope.
April 17, 2008 – Holds Mass at Nationals Park in Washington, DC with an estimated 46,000 in attendance. Later in the day, meets with Bernie McDaid, Olan Horne, and Faith Johnston, three victims of sexual abuse by clergymen.
April 18, 2008 – Delivers a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
April 19, 2008 – Celebrates Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
April 20, 2008 – Prays at ground zero in lower Manhattan, before leading a Mass at Yankee Stadium in front of 60,000 people.
October 12, 2008 – Canonizes four new saints, including Mother Teresa.
February 12, 2009 – Makes a statement denouncing anti-Semitism a month after a scandal involving a bishop who denied the death toll of Jews killed in concentration camps during World War II.
March 17-23, 2009 – Makes his first trip to Africa as pope, traveling to Cameroon and Angola, and reaffirms the Catholic Church’s ban on condom use.
April 26, 2009 – Names five new saints: Rev. Arcangelo Tadini, Nuno Alvares Pereira, Bernardo Tolomei, Gertrude Comensoli and Caterina Volpicelli.
May 8-15, 2009 – Makes his first trip to the Middle East – making stops in Jordan and Israel to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
July 17, 2009 – Has surgery after breaking his wrist in a fall while on vacation.
August 3, 2009 – The pope signs record deal with Geffen Records to record his songs and prayers to the Virgin Mary.
November 23, 2009 – The pope’s new album, “Alma Mater,” is released.
June 11, 2010 – During a Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica, the pope asks forgiveness for sexual abuse within the church and promises to do more to stop future incidents.
July 15, 2010 – The Vatican announces the toughening of its laws on priests involved in sexual abuse.
September 16-19, 2010 – The pope travels to England and Scotland, the first state visit to the United Kingdom by a pope. Pope John Paul II made a pastoral visit in 1982.
September 16, 2010 – The pope makes a statement that the Roman Catholic Church has not been vigilant enough or fast enough in responding to the problem of sexual abuse by priests.
June 28, 2011 – The pope sends his first tweet, via the Vatican’s Twitter account, to announce the launch of the new Vatican website. The tweet is prepared in advance for the pope, but he presses the send button.
May 26, 2012 – The Vatican announces that Pope Benedict XVI’s butler Paolo Gabriele has been arrested for illegal possession of confidential documents. He is suspected of leaking documents to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, author of the controversial book “Sua Santita.”
October 6, 2012 – The pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, is convicted of aggravated theft for leaking confidential papal documents and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
October 21, 2012 – Names seven new saints, two of them Americans: 17th century Mohawk Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American, and Marianne Cope, a nun who devoted 30 years of her life helping lepers in Hawaii. The five other new saints are 19th century French Jesuit Jacques Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod of the Philippines, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Maria Carmen Salles y Barangueras and Anna Schaffer.
November 21, 2012 – The pope’s book “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives” is released. In the book, the pope claims the Christian calendar is based on a mistake by a sixth century monk, who was several years off in his calculation of Jesus’ birth date.
December 3, 2012 – The pope’s Twitter account goes live in seven languages and has thousands of followers within minutes.
February 11, 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI announces that he will retire, effective February 28. He cites his “advanced age” as the reason.
February 28, 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Vatican by helicopter for the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo. He is expected to remain there while the next pope is chosen. Benedict XVI will then return to the Vatican to live in a former gardener’s house. He makes his last remarks as Pope from the balcony at Castel Gandolfo, saying, “I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.”
May 2, 2013 – Returns to live in the Vatican alongside Pope Francis.
February 22, 2014 – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI makes a surprise appearance at St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope Francis creates 19 new cardinals.
April 27, 2014 – Attends the canonization ceremony of popes John XXIII and John Paul II as a guest.
November 2016 – Benedict XVI’s book “Last Testament: In His Own Words,” co-written by Peter Seewald, is released.
February 7, 2018 – Benedict XVI says he “is on a pilgrimage toward Home” in a rare public letter published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The brief note in Italian apparently came after the paper asked the Pope Emeritus for a response to readers who were wondering how he was.