Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his 83rd birthday today. Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger) was born on April 16, 1927 at Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany and was baptized on the same day as it was Holy Saturday and in Catholic tradition, children are baptized on Easter Vigil.
His father, Joseph Ratzinger Sr., was a police officer and belonged to a family of peasants while his mother, according to the Pope’s official biography, was the daughter of artisans from Rimsting on the shore of Lake Chiem, and before marrying she worked as a cook in a number of hotels. Joseph Ratzinger’s brother, Georg Ratzinger is a priest and was director of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir, a famous church choir in Germany, for quite a long time.
Ratzinger spent his youthful years in tumultuous times. In 1941, a few days after his 14th birthday, he was forced to join the Hitler Youth Movement. Because he was only coerced to join the movement, he refused to participate in the meetings and activities of the group. Later on as a seminarian, he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps but a subsequent infirmity did not permit him from fulfilling his military duty.
Joseph and Georg Ratzinger were both ordained in Freising on June 29, 1951 by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Munich.
Ratzinger joined the academic community of the University of Bonn as a theology professor in 1959. During his stint as faculty, he was appointed advisor of the Archbishop of Munich. It was also during this time when he was summoned to be part of the historic Second Vatican Council. From then on, he has been known the world over as a brilliant theologian.
In 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and in 1981, he was summoned by Pope John Paul II to head the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After the death of Pope John Paul II, he was elected by the College of Cardinals as the 265th Successor of Peter.
We wish His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI good health and God’s immense blessings on his birthday. May he steadfastly lead the Church worldwide as we face great challenges. Happy 83rd Birthday to our Holy Father!