Karl Ratzinger

Karl Ratzinger was born on April 16 in 1927. This was in Marktl in Bavaria which is in the neighborhood of the shrine of Marian. This shrine had been the pilgrimage site for the Austrians and Bavarians for many years and which can be traced to the middle ages. There is something special in this day because it was on a Holy Saturday of Easter and as the Easter service was being celebrated that day, he was baptized. He is the third born to his parents, Joseph and Mary. Joseph worked as a police constable and therefore the nature of his duties required him to move from place to place with his family.

However, this was also partly influenced by the unstable politics during those days. The family moved to Tittmoning in 1929 where they stayed until 1932 when life became intolerable as a result of Joseph’s opposition to the Nazi. The family moved to Aschau that year where Ratzinger started his education at a local school. The family stayed in Aschau until 1937 when Joseph retired from the police service. Meanwhile, Joseph had bought a house at Traunstein in 1933 and the family moved into this house after his retirement.

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Following the family’s settlement at Traunstein, Ratzinger started secondary school studies in history, Greek and Latin. In 1939, he joined the minor seminary at the request of his elder brother Georg who was studying there himself. Life at the seminary was however not very comfortable for Ratzinger due to the inflexibility of the studies and his indifference to sports especially athletics. The seminary was later to be relocated to a convent school following the use of the seminary as a military hospital during the World War 2. Ratzinger and his colleagues were compelled to to join the anti-aircraft unit and then transferred to Munich to continue with their secondary education when not on duty. In 1944, had become of age to join the military and served at the border of Austria and Hungary.

He however became sick and was excused of his duties. That was to be a short while though because when the Americans arrived, he was forced to go back to military. He served for a short while and later escaped with a hurt in his arm.Ratzinger and his brother George joined the major seminary in 1945 at Freising which at that time was also being used as a hospital for prisoners of war from foreign countries. He started his studies in theology in 1947 in Munich and in 1951, together with his brother Georg, they were ordained to become priests.

He served in the parish in Munich for fifteen years after which he went back to the seminary at Freising as a teacher. His responsibilities at the seminary school included attachment with the youth and in liturgy. He completed his doctorate degree in 1953 and consequently became a doctor but had to do another book to attain the pinnacle of scholarship in Germany which he did and in 1957 acquired the degree. He became a lecturer in a Munich University in 1958. In 1959, he was appointed as the chairman of fundamental theology at Bonn. In 1962, he was appointed by Joseph Frings, then a cardinal archbishop to be a theological advisor to him in Vatican and also to be an official theologian.

In 1963, he moved from at Bonn to the University of Munster. In 1966, he was appointed as a chair in the University of Tubingen at the dogmatic theology. He taught at the faculty until 1969 when he moved to the University of Regensburg due to unrests by the students. He remained at this University for the entire life in academics. In 1969, he was appointed to the International Theological Commission. He was appointed the archbishop of Bavaria in 1977 and later in the same year, he was made a cardinal.

He was made prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education in 1981 and during this time as a prefect, he wrote twenty books. In 1992, he was formally given the Academie Francaise. He was a member in five top Vatican congregations, Christian unity and pontifical commissions. He authored the book “Introduction to Christianity” which was once the best selling book and also very pivotal in Catholic theology (WEIGEL, G. 2005). He was elected the pope in 2005.