The Life, Death, and Funeral of Pope Benedict XVI

Luke Allen, Editor

Pope Benedict XVI was born as Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn Germany. His father was a policeman and his mother was a hotel cook. Ratzinger was the youngest of three children and six years old when Germany came under Nazi rule in 1933, both his parents were devout Catholics hostile towards the regime. Ratzinger entered the seminary in 1939 and in 1941 was forced to join the Hitler Youth before being conscripted into the German military in 1943 against his will. During his time in the military he served in an anti aircraft unit in Bavaria before being moved to Hungary to set tank traps in 1945. In April of that year he would desert from the German military and be taken prisoner by American troops for a short time. After his release and the end of the war he continued his education in the seminary earning a doctorate in theology at the University of Munich in 1953. He was awarded his teaching license in 1957 and during his ensuing years of academia he wrote a number of important works in the field of theology  including Introduction to Christianity (1968) and Dogma and Revelation (1973). Ratzinger was appointed archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977 and quickly rose to become one of the closest advisors to the current pope. 


Ratzinger was elected as pope on April 19, 2005 taking the name Benedict and reigned until his resignation in 2013. Pope Benedict was the first pope to meet with victims of child abuse at the hands of members of the church, having the offending individuals excommunicated. He also rekindled efforts to better the relationship between the Roman Catholic church and East Orthodox church 


Pope Benedict XVI died on December 31, 2022 at the age of 97 in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where he chose to live after stepping down from his position as Pope in 2013 due to his “advanced age.” His funeral was held on January fifth in St. Peter’s square in Vatican city. The funeral was presided over by Pope Francis, the first funeral of a dead Pope to be presided over by a living one in modern history. Benedict’s body was laid in St. Peter’s Basilica the following Monday so the faithful could pay their respects to the deceased pope.