Pope Benedict XVI has been the head of the Roman schlüsseldienst münster Catholic Church since his predecessor John Paul II died in 2005. His real name is Joseph Ratzinger and he is the eighth German to become pope. Benedict XVI is a well-educated man, speaks many languages and even plays the piano.

Joseph Ratzinger was born in a small town in Bavaria, Germany in 1927. His father was a policeman and his mother a cook. Ratzinger was six years old when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Although his parents were against the Nazi regime Ratzinger had to join the Hitler Youth and in 1943 became a soldier in the Wehrmacht.

After World War II he studied theology and became a priest in 1951. In the 50s and 60s he taught theology at German universities, including Münster and Regensburg. During this period Ratzinger wrote many interesting theological papers.

In 1977 Ratzinger became cardinal and Archbishop of Munich. When John Paul II became pope in 1978 he made Joseph Ratzinger one of his closest advisors. In the two decades that followed he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, an organization that was responsible for faith and morals in the Catholic world.

At the age of 78 Ratzinger was elected pope by the conclave of cardinals, which got together after John Paul II had died. He chose the name Benedict, patron saint of Europe and founder of the Benedictine Order.

Before Ratzinger became pope he had the image of a conservative, a hard-liner who is against too much socialism. He was criticized for a lot of things he said in his first years. He described homosexuality, for example, as an evil that humans must get away from.

In Africa Benedict made offensive remarks about the use of condoms. He said that AIDS was not an illness that you could cure by money alone. The distribution of condoms among the people of Africa can only make things worse.

When he allowed Bishop Richard Williamson, who denied the Holocaust, back into the church, the Vatican admitted they had made a big mistake and not checked the bishop’s background enough.

Benedict must cope with many problems that face the Roman Catholic Church. One big task is to strengthen Roman Catholic Church in Europe in a time when fewer and fewer people go to mass and an increasing number leave the church. On the other side the conservative pope calls for a return to more Latin in masses.

In his early years Benedict visited many countries, but not nearly as many as John Paul had visited before him. In Turkey, he hoped to improve the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Eastern Orthodox Church. In 2008 he made his first visit to the USA where he spoke out openly against sexual abuse among priests.


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