Saturday, April 21, 2012

Benedict XVI's 85th Birthday

On 16 April 2012, Benedict XVI celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, addressed some words to the Holy Father.

"Today, on the occasion of your birthday, we wish to thank you for the solicitude with which you carry out this service of love."

"It is no coincidence that your first Encyclical was a hymn to the Love that is God, the love which must always animate pastors, who are called to bring the light of God, the warmth of His love, into the world."

"Holy Father, may the Lord continue to remain at your side, accomplishing the promise announced by God to the just man in Psalm 90: 'With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation'".

Brief Biography

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on 16 April 1927,  in his parents' home in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was baptised the same day. Ratzinger attended the elementary school in Aschau am Inn, which was renamed in his honour in 2009.


Following his 14th birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Jugend —as membership was required by law for all 14-year-old German boys after December 1939 — but was an unenthusiastic member who refused to attend meetings, according to his brother. In 1941, one of Ratzinger's cousins, a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was taken away by the Nazi regime and killed.  In 1943, while still in seminary, he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps. Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry.

As the Allied front drew closer to his post in 1945, he deserted back to his family's home in Traunstein after his unit had ceased to exist. As a German soldier, he was put in a POW camp but was released a few months later at the end of the war in the summer of 1945. He reentered the seminary, along with his brother Georg, in November of that year.

After a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at various German universities—the last being the University of Regensburg—he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977. In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of  Faith. From 2002 until his election as Pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals.

In addition to his native German, Benedict speaks French and Italian fluently. He also has a very good command of Latin and speaks English and Spanish adequately. Furthermore, he has some knowledge of Portuguese. He can read Ancient Greek and biblical Hebrew. He plays the piano and has a preference for Mozart and Bach.

During his papacy, Benedict XVI has advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many developed countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He teaches the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love.

Pope Benedict XVI has also revived a number of liturgical traditions including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position.

Ad multos annos!