Facts about Pope Benedict XVI
February 11th, 2013
07:58 AM ET

Facts about Pope Benedict XVI

(CNN) - Here's a look at Pope Benedict XVI's life.

Birth date: April 16, 1927

Birth place: Marktl am Inn, Germany

Birth name: Joseph Ratzinger

Father: Joseph Ratzinger, a police officer

Mother: Maria Ratzinger

Education: University of Munich, doctorate in theology, 1953

Religion: Roman Catholic

Other Facts:
Is a conservative, considered the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on issues such as women's ordination, according to CNN's John Allen in "Who is Pope Benedict XVI."

Served as chief theological advisor 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 – Deserts the German army and is taken prisoner by the U.S. 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 less than 24 hours after conclave begins.

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 St Peters 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 9-14, 2006 – Visits his home country of Germany, stopping in Munich, Altotting, and Regensburg.

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.

June 9, 2007 – Meets with U.S. President George W. Bush at the Vatican, the first meeting between the two. Their discussions include Iraq, Muslim relations, and AIDS.

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 U.S. for the first time as pope.

April 17, 2008 – Holds mass at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. 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 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 the first female saint from India.

February 12, 2009 – Makes a statement denouncing anti-Semitism a month after a scandal involving a bishop denying 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 – First trip to the Middle East – making stops in Jordan and Israel and meets 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 St. 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 – 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 official 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.

March 26-28, 2012 – The pope visits Cuba. He celebrates Mass in Revolution Plaza and also meets with the country's former leader, Fidel Castro.

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's birth date.

December 3, 2012 – The pope's Twitter account goes live in seven languages and has thousands of followers within minutes.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (45 Responses)
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    March 2, 2013 at 2:31 am |
  3. Bill

    Hmmmm....They left out 1927 thru 1945.....guess not much happened in Germany during that period.

    February 24, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Gordon

      Well, between 1927 – 1945, Pope Benedict was growing up at home, and despite World War II, probably had a normal, loving upbringing. He may not have received the call to the priesthood until after the War.

      February 27, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  4. Peter Brooks.

    Kindly visit the eternal spirit within without request to feel all knowing power that protects and comforts us without having to beg as pilots in a mind, body and soul we cannot explain.

    February 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  5. The Five Minute University


    February 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • The Five Minute of Garbage

      Garbage post.

      February 11, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      Actually, it's pretty darn funny!

      February 11, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  6. truth be told

    A few lying ho mose xuals deceived the church and deviously crept into the priesthood to ply their filth on innocents. To continually blame the entire church for those few disgusting ho mose xuals is like blaming banks because there are bank robberies.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Zingo

      When the robbers are bank employees, and the bank officers cover it up and send the robbers to other places they can rob, it is indeed correct to blame the bank for robberies.

      February 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • -.-

      Learn the fucking difference between a pedophile and a gay person already, you enabling jerk. Then you may have a goddammed point. Tard.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Akira

      6000 pedophile priests that the RCC ADMITS to, tbt...and you're going to defend THAT??? You're part of the problem.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • ..

      truth be told, you're one of those who wants to wear their mother's skin, aren't you?

      February 12, 2013 at 2:35 am |
    • Michael Morley

      Its not a few its hundreds.....and....hundreds..... and some of them are in the curia and the Pope has covered for them all.

      May 9, 2013 at 4:31 am |
  7. Fuggedabouthim

    Funny how the list omits the Hitler Youth days. And the fact that he chose to join the clergy because he was impressed by the fashions.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  8. EX catholic

    FACTS... really, really CNN! The real facts are that he is an Idolater, a worshipper of demons. Idolatry IS NOT religion; Idolatry is an aberrant and abhorrent SIN.

    Idolaters WILL NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Idolatry IS NOT religion.

    February 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Akira

      Look, I'm not a fan of the way the RCC has handled some of their internal problems, if you know what I mean, but he isn't an idolator, nor does he worship demons.
      Catholicism is another faction of Christianity, whether you like it or not.

      February 11, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Questioner

      Haha, so what DO you do in the kingdom of heaven? Honestly, do you play harps all day long? Do you have any physical shape? If not, do you feel anything? Do you get bored after years of harp playing and then do you think you are equal to God and do you get thrown down and take the form of a snake and doe this whole story start all over again??? You know you can only play harp and sign sogns for so long before you get bored. So maybe he is lucky not to enter this whole cycle?? What do you think?

      February 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  9. Honey Badger Dont Care

    Is it just me or does that guy look like an evil troll in every picture that they take of him?

    February 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      What would you expect from Darth Benedict?

      February 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  10. Mohammad A Dar

    born in 1927, deserted Germany Army in 1945; was his life between 1927 and 1945 irrelevant? Ya, and what about his love life? celibacy was not a requirement in German Army.

    February 11, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    And lest we forget, Benedict managed to burn the inter-faith bridges that had slowly been building under the guidance of JPII within the first couple of years.
    He angered Muslims by saying that the contributions made by Muhammad were "only evil and inhuman".
    He angered Jews by allowing wider use of the old, Tridentine liturgy, which includes a Good Friday plea that they be "delivered from their darkness" and also by lifing the excommunication of Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson.
    He angered native Latin Americans by claiming that the colonisation of their continent had not involved "the imposition of a foreign culture".

    February 11, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      told people not to wear condoms because it's a sin, thereby causing the spread of HIV/AIDs around the world.

      February 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  12. Doc Vestibule

    They missed how he is responsible for penning the 'Crimen Sollicitationis' in 1962, which outlined how the church is to handle accusations of se.xual impropriety against clergy.
    Thank to Cardinal Ratzinger, the doc.ument itself Top Secret for decades. It explictly stated that anybody involved in that type of investigation, including the accuser and potential witnesses, are sworn to secrecy regarding any and all details, upon penalty of excommunication (a fate worse than death for the devout).
    This preoccupation with secrecy significantly slowed the investigative process – the backlog of referrals to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for action against se.xually abusive priests is so large that it takes 18 months to get a reply.

    February 11, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • just wondering

      So it will be at least 18 months until action can be initiated against you?

      February 11, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • -.-

      Fuck off, wondering. Assholes like you are the reason kids are getting raped.

      February 11, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • junior

      Say what you will. The Church that Jesus Christ left us is here to stay and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • -.-

      Too bad that same church does nothing to prevent the rape of innocents. Pass the buck, please.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Akira

      I cannot think of a worse crime in any church than the molestation of innocents, except covering it up and enabling the behavior to continue.
      Shame on them.

      February 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • ..

      just wondering, your mother breast fed you until you were 8, didn't she?

      February 12, 2013 at 2:37 am |
  13. Jerry Fallswell

    A good man prays a great man acts on prayer. It takes a man of courage and vision to realize his work has been completed to the best of his God given ability and be willing to allow another to take over. Well done good and faithful servant.

    February 11, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • derp

      How can his work be completed.

      There are still molestation cases to be covered up.

      February 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • pattysboi

      Benny is NOT a "good and faithful servant". He is an accessory to the crime of molestation, and needs to be held accountable for what he did.

      February 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm |

  14. I like the little wick (fuse?) he has on his head. I wonder if the Vatican gift shops have Pope Joey candles?.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • derp

      That looks kind of like a tampon string.

      February 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  15. Obliterate the RCC today and avoid the rush!

    A whitewashed list of "facts" is worthless. Please don't bother doing this "news" thing if it makes you uncomfortable.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • -.-

      Yeah, too bad he didn't "crack down" on pedophilic priest with his church...

      February 11, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Pray without ceasing
    Prayer changes things

    February 11, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      February 11, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • junior

      Prayer changes people too. I see too much hate and contempt on this blog from people quick to anger when they argue there is no God. I have yet to see the fruit of their liberating efforts as they have no compassion for humanity.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Pete

      " see too much hate and contempt on this blog from people quick to anger when they argue there is no God. I have yet to see the fruit of their liberating efforts as they have no compassion for humanity."

      More lies from the xtians – 191!

      February 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • derp

      If prayer changes things, why doesn't Pope ratzenhitler just pray to be healthy enough to keep popeing.

      February 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • derp

      "Prayer changes people too. I see too much hate and contempt on this blog from people quick to anger when they argue there is no God. I have yet to see the fruit of their liberating efforts as they have no compassion for humanity"

      Blow me.

      February 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.