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Life and Work of Joseph Ratzinger

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Benedict XVI served as pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013. He is best known for his rigid views on Catholicism and topics such as birth control and homosexuality. Pope Benedict XVI grew up under war reparations from World War I, as the Nazi regime was gaining power. He was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth in his early teens after membership became mandatory in 1941. He turned to theological studies after the war, helping found the influential journal Communio. He was elevated to the papacy in 2005. In February 2013, Benedict XVI resigned from his position as pope.

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Joseph spent his infancy and adolescence in Traunstein, a little village near the Austrian border, 30 km from Salzburg. He himself has defined his upbringing as ‘Mozartian’, growing up in this setting where he received his Christian, human and cultural education. He lived a difficult adolescence but his faith and his familial upbringing helped him to face the harsh reality of the times, during which the Catholic Church was facing heavy hostility from the Nazi regime. The young Joseph was witness to the Nazis beating up a parish priest before mass. In that period he discovered the beauty and truth of the Christian faith; his family played a fundamental role in this side of his life, always providing him with good examples. In the last months of the Second World War he joined the anti-aircraft military services. From 1946 to 1951 he studied philosophy and theology at The High Schoolof Philosophy and Technology in Freising and later at the University of Munich. He was ordained on 29th June 1951. The following year he started teaching at his former school in Freising. In 1953 he earned a doctorate in Theology; the title of his thesis was “The People and the House of God in St Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church”. Four years later, under the direction of the famous professor of fundamental theology Gottlieb Söhngen he obtained a university teaching qualification with a dissertation on “The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure”. After teaching dogmatic and fundamental theology at The High School of Philosophy and Theology in Freising he taught in Bonn from 1959 to 1963, in Münster from 1963 to 1966 and in Tübingen from 1966 to 1969. In 1969 he became a professor of dogmatic theology and the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg where he was also vice-president.

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In the long run, following the death of John Paul II on April 2, 2005, and his funeral on April 8, Cardinal Ratzinger presided over the conclave to elect a new pope as dean of the College of Cardinals. The conclave opened on April 18 and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the 265th Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005. He chose the name "Benedict" and became Pope Benedict XVI.

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Life and Work of Joseph Ratzinger
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