He died at the age of 95, full of ailments but with clear mindhistorical figure of the Church, a great theologian, who for forty years was at the forefront of the Vatican’s leadership.
First, from 1981, as a cardinal Guardian of Orthodoxy ecclesiastical doctrine and discipline. Joseph Ratzinger He was the trusted man of St. John Paul II, in practice the number two of the Church for importance and influence in the 26 years of Karol Wojtyla’s pontificate.
The Polish Pope led him to his succession appointing him dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, which allowed him in 2005 to lead the 115 cardinals who elected him in two days in the Sistine Chapel with the name of Benedict XVI. Once again it has been demonstrated that the saying he assures is not true: whoever enters the Conclave as Pope leaves it as Cardinal.
After eight years of conservative pontificateRatzinger resigned on February 28, 2013, a long-considered decision.
He once confessed that he decided to resign in August 2012 when he realized it he no longer had physical and mental strength proceed.” In 1991 he had suffered a stroke, a family disease, which in two years made him lose his sight of the left eye. He also had other ailments that he survived for a long time.
2005-2013, 2013-2022. are the numbers of a “double” Pope. first seated in St. Peter’s, then emeritus, a title that Ratzinger himself gave himself with the well-organized resignation of this meticulous Bavarian German.
Nazism and World War II
He was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl, Bavaria, in a family of deep Catholic convictions. His father Joseph was a gendarmerie officer. Nail the role of his mother Maria Peintner, who looked after the house and the three children: in addition to Joseph, the eldest Georg and Maria.
The militant Catholicism of the Ratzingers he protected them against Nazism. Joseph entered the seminary at age 11 and in 1941 he was forced to enlist in the Hitler Youth.
“I deny it reign of atheism and falsehood that it was Nazism,” he said at the end of the war. In 1943 he was mobilized and fought in World War II in an anti-aircraft unit protecting a BMW factory.
Done prisoner of the allies at the end of the war he was interned in the Ulm camp in 1945, until he was able to return home.
From 1946 to 1951 studied theology and philosophy at the Fringe Academy and the University of Munich. She quickly showed bright conditions and in 1952 he began teaching at the Freising seminary.
On June 29, 1951, at the age of 24 he was ordained a priest together with his older brother Georg, with whom he was closely related throughout his life. Georg always called him “Kinder”, baby.
In 1959 the future pontiff entered the University of Bonn as a professor. He gave a brilliant opening lecture on “the God of faith and the God of philosophy.” His classes were very close. In 1963, his reputation as a good theologian brought him to the University of Munster.
Ratzinger was a young protagonist of the Second Vatican Council as theological adviser to Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne. His ideas then brought him closer to the progressives. He defended the conciliar documents of Nostra Aetate, which defended the right to religious freedom. He was rated as “convinced reformer”.
At that time admirer of Karl Rahner, ideologist of the New Theology, also defended the reform of the Church and set out to open up new theological ideas. He soon realized that with Rahner “we lived on two different planets.”
Ratzinger’s theology was decidedly oriented towards the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church.
His growing fame moved him this time to the University of Tübingen, where he met and became friends with the great progressive theologian Hans Kung, who died in 2021, with whom he supported for the rest of his life. strong fights.
The response of the youthful tide of the left in Europe won over the young German university students, who in Tübingen gave the movement a Marxist line. There were major riots in April and May 1968.
Joseph Ratzinger preferred to return to his native Bavaria and found himself in the less reformist atmosphere of the University of Regensburg the climate I was looking for. In 1972 he founded the journal Communio with Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henry de Lubac and other well-known theologians.
Archbishop and Cardinal
From Rome, Pope Paul VI, of refined culture, followed all these agitated movements in the German Catholic world. He has read much of what Ratzinger has published and on March 24, 1977 he nominated him Archbishop of Munich, the Bavarian capital.
In June he was made a cardinal. In 1977, at the World Synod of Bishops dedicated to catechesis, met the archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla. A friendship was born that made history.
Wojtyla agrees with what Ratzinger said in Faith report, a book that sold well in Europe. He believed that with the Second Vatican Council a Catholic period had opened in what Ratzinger considered a superficial interpretation of Catholicism, which signified all that was new, however ephemeral and incoherent it might be.
Ratzinger attacked relativism, his theological workhorse for the rest of his life, “which questions the idea of dogmatic and moral truth”. Also it denounced the impoverishment of a profound cult which meant the abandonment of a liturgy steeped in the traditions of the Church.
The result is that the Christian West “lives today in a neo-pagan era” and attempts at structural reform by the Church must be resisted.
Facing the “sacred inquisition”
advanced Catholics they fought it since. But what Ratzinger preached earned him the trust of John Paul II, who on November 25, 1981 appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faiththe ancient Holy Office and before the Holy Inquisition.
Ratzinger became his most important and appreciated collaborator until the death of Karol Wojtyla.
in the church they were sexual abuse scandals erupt of minors by priests who still torment an institution that upholds their intrinsic sanctity.
In the United States, the main center of conflicts for abuses, Ratzinger has been attacked on charges of covering up for the culprits. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith it also deals with disciplinewho recalls his past reaching the Inquisition.
In 2010 The New York Times said he was guilty of covering up for the American priest Lorenzo Murphysuspected of abuse 300 deaf children. The Holy See denied complicity and explained that it had become aware of the case twenty years later the outbreak of the scandal.
Much worse, the scandal of the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful right-wing order. maciel abused children and seminariansHe was the father of two children and had two partners. He managed billions of dollars and knew how to buy silence.
The Maciel scandal is the worst that the internal apparatus of the Church has suffered, because John Paul II has always defended it. He distrusted these reports because he said that the communists in his Polish country used this instrument of infamy to attack and weaken the Church.
The concrete thing is that towards the end of Wojtyl’s pontificate it was impossible to continue to treat the question with ambiguity. Ratzinger insisted this in front of Wojtyla it was necessary to act.
Eventually Maciel fI was withdrawn to private life, but not sanctioned. As the rapidly declining Polish pope entered the end of his life, a strange comment was heard at the Via Crucis ceremony at the Colosseum at Easter 2005.
“How much dirt has accumulated in the Church”commentary was heard over loudspeakers and television. The dirt was the sex scandals and Ratzinger had written about it.
Days later, Wojtyla, who had promised many worried cardinals to take matters into his own hands, died. This compromise increased his chances. He was the sung favorite and also presided over all the proceedings before the election in the Sistine Chapel. Ratzinger was elected in two days.
It was later learned that the Argentine cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had been his only competitorsupported by the progressive wing and its leader, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.