“Whoever believes is never alone” was the motto of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, who paid a pastoral visit to his former home of Bavaria on September 9 to 14, 2006.
Stops on this trip were Munich, Altötting, his birthplace Marktl am Inn, Regensburg, Pentling, and Freising. Around 250,000 people attended each of the worship services in Benedict’s former diocese of Munich and Freising and in Regensburg. On September 12, the pope delivered a widely noted talk on “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections” at Regensburg University where he had formerly worked as a professor. Among other things, he addressed Islam’s relationship with violence. “This “Regensburg address” attracted international attention and harsh criticism in part.
Upon the death of longtime pope John Paul II (1920–2005; pope as of 1978), curial cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the first German to be elected pope again after around 500 years on April 19, 2005. German media fell over themselves in their coverage. The Bild newspaper ran the headline “We are pope!” – a turn of phrase that has become the “catchphrase of success”. Large segments of society were thrilled and elated over the Bavarian’s election.
Joseph Ratzinger was born the third child of a police officer in Marktl am Inn in Upper Bavaria in 1927. He spent his youth in Traunstein where he attended the seminary, interrupted by his wartime service as an anti-aircraft auxiliary, until graduating with his high school diploma in 1945. After the war’s end, he majored in philosophy and Catholic philosophy at the universities in Freising and Munich. Joseph Ratzinger was consecrated priest in Freising Cathedral on June 29, 1951. He began his academic career one year later when he started teaching at the College of Philosophy and Theology in Freising. He earned his doctorate in 1953 and his habilitation degree in 1957. Two years later, he became a professor at the University of Bonn. The universities in Münster and Tübingen followed before Ratzinger was appointed professor at the University of Regensburg in 1969.
Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. In 1981, Pope Paul VI’s successor John Paul II appointed him to the Roman Curia where he was Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, among other things. He was elected pope in 2005 and took the name Benedict XVI. On February 28, 2013, Benedict XVI became the first modern pope to resign from his office for reasons of health and age. The retired pope continues to live in the Vatican.