Benedict XVI(Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)popeBorn: April 16, 1927Birthplace: Marktl, Bavaria, Germany
Benedict XVI was named pope in April 2005, succeeding the immensely popular Pope John Paul II. The conclave of cardinals selected him after two days of voting, a relatively short period.
Growing up in Nazi Germany, Benedict XVI took refuge in the Catholic Church. His experience under a totalitarian regime shaped his religious views and has influenced his theology. Although his family was staunchly anti-Nazi, Benedict XVI was a reluctant and brief member of the Hitler Youth, as mandated by the government. He joined the seminary in 1939 and was drafted in 1943. He served in an antiaircraft unit and in the regular military before deserting in 1945. He was captured by U.S. troops and was held as a prisoner of war. After World War II he returned to the seminary and was ordained in 1951. He turned to academia, earning a doctorate from the University of Munich in 1957. He spent about a dozen years writing and teaching dogma and theology.
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