Pope Benedict celebrates 82nd birthday

 The Holy Father is celebrating his 82nd birthday today, in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo a few kilometres south of Rome where he is enjoying a brief period of rest following the ceremonies of Holy Week.

Holy See Press Office Director F. Federico Lombardi SJ yesterday expressed the hope that the Holy Father "may long continue to carry out his ministry, ... helping the men and women of today to find God".

"The focus of his concern is to bring mankind to God and God to mankind, through a great personal love for Christ. ... Despite the critical attitude it is necessary to adopt towards so many negative aspects of today's culture and mentality, in the final analysis the principle message [the Church] wishes to communicate is a message of love, a message for the good of mankind and of the human person; that is, their reconciliation with God and with all the other men and women who live on this earth".

Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, the name with which Benedict XVI was baptised, was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: "The People and House of God in St. Augustine's Doctrine of the Church." Four years later he qualified as a university teacher with a work on St Bonaventure's theology of history.

After a period of teaching dogma and fundamental theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, he went on to teach in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, in Munster from 1963 to 1966, and in Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. In that year he was appointed professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and vice president of the same university. In 1962, he made a noteworthy contribution to the work of Vatican Council II as theological consultant to Cardinal Joseph Frings, archbishop of Cologne.

On 24 March 1977, Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich and Freising, making him a cardinal on 27 June 1977. In 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Subsequently he also became president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission, and dean of the College of Cardinals.

Source: VIS

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