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Pope Benedict XVI.
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Election to the papacy


On 2 January 2005, Time magazine quoted unnamed Vatican sources as saying that Ratzinger was a front runner to succeed John Paul II should the pope die or become too ill to continue as pope. On the death of John Paul II, the Financial Times gave the odds of Ratzinger becoming pope as 7–1, the lead position, but close to his rivals on the liberal wing of the church. In April 2005, before his election as pope, he was identified as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. While Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger repeatedly stated he would like to retire to his house in the Bavarian village of Pentling near Regensburg and dedicate himself to writing books.

Piers Paul Read wrote in The Spectator on 5 March 2005:

There can be little doubt that his courageous promotion of orthodox Catholic teaching has earned him the respect of his fellow cardinals throughout the world. He is patently holy, highly intelligent and sees clearly what is at stake. Indeed, for those who blame the decline of Catholic practice in the developed world precisely on the propensity of many European bishops to hide their heads in the sand, a pope who confronts it may be just what is required. Ratzinger is no longer young—he is 78 years old: but Angelo Roncalli, who revolutionized Catholicism by calling the Second Vatican Council was almost the same age (76) when he became pope as John XXIII. As Jeff Israely, the correspondent of Time, was told by a Vatican insider last month, "The Ratzinger solution is definitely on."[1]

Though Ratzinger was increasingly considered the front runner by much of the international media, others maintained that his election was far from certain since very few papal predictions in modern history had come true. The elections of both John Paul II and his predecessor, John Paul I had been rather unexpected. Despite being the favorite (or perhaps because he was the favorite), it was a surprise to many that he was actually elected, as traditionally the frontrunners are passed over by the conclave for someone else.


On 19 April 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the successor to Pope John Paul II on the second day of the papal conclave after four ballots. Cardinal Ratzinger had hoped to retire peacefully and said that "At a certain point, I prayed to God 'please don't do this to me'...Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me."[2] Coincidentally, 19 April is the feast of St. Leo IX, the most important German pope of the Middle Ages, known for instituting major reforms during his pontificate.

Before his first appearance at the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica after becoming pope, he was announced by Jorge Medina Estévez, protodeacon of the College of Cardinals. Cardinal Medina Estévez first addressed the massive crowd as "dear(est) brothers and sisters" in Italian, Spanish, French, German and English, with each language receiving cheers from the international crowd, before continuing with the traditional Habemus Papam announcement in Latin.

At the balcony, Benedict's first words to the crowd, given in Italian before he gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing in Latin, were:

Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with insufficient instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help, let us move forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother, will be on our side. Thank you.[3]

On 24 April, he celebrated the Papal Inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square, during which he was invested with the Pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman. Then, on 7 May, he took possession of his Cathedral church, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

Choice of name

Ratzinger chose the pontifical name Benedict, which comes from the Latin word meaning "the blessed", in honor of both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia. Pope Benedict XV was Pope during the first World War, during which time he passionately pursued peace between the warring nations. St. Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the Benedictine monasteries (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of the Benedictine Order) and the author of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is still the most influential writing regarding the monastic life of Western Christianity.

Benedict XVI explained his choice of name during his first General Audience in St. Peter's Square, on 27 April 2005:

Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples. Additionally, I recall Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our thoughts and actions![4]

Tone of papacy

During his inaugural Mass, the previous custom of every cardinal submitting to the Pope was replaced by having twelve people, including cardinals, clergy, religious, a married couple and their child, and newly confirmed people, greet him. (The cardinals had formally sworn their obedience upon his election.) He began using an open-topped papal car, saying that he wanted to be closer to the people. Pope Benedict has continued the tradition of his predecessor John Paul II and baptizes several infants in the Sistine Chapel at the beginning of each year, in his pastoral role as Bishop of Rome.


On 9 May 2005, Benedict XVI began the beatification process for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Normally, five years must pass after a person's death before the beatification process can begin. However, in an audience with Pope Benedict, Camillo Ruini, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome and the official responsible for promoting the cause for canonization of any person who dies within that diocese, cited "exceptional circumstances" which suggested that the waiting period could be waived. This happened before, when Pope Paul VI waived the five year rule and announced beatification processes for his predecessors, Pope Pius XII and Pope John XXIII. Benedict XVI followed this precedent when he waived the five year rule for John Paul II.[5] The decision was announced on 13 May 2005, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the 24th anniversary of the attempt on John Paul II's life.[6] John Paul II often credited Our Lady of Fatima for preserving him on that day. Cardinal Ruini inaugurated the diocesan phase of the cause for beatification in the Lateran Basilica on 28 June 2005.[7]

The first beatification under the new Pope was celebrated on 14 May 2005, by José Cardinal Saraiva Martins. The new Blesseds were Mother Marianne Cope and Mother Ascensión Nicol Goñi. Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen was beatified on 9 October 2005. Mariano de la Mata was beatified in November 2006 and Rosa Eluvathingal was beatified 3 December of that year, and Fr. Basil Moreau is scheduled to be beatified by next year. In October 2008 the following beatifications took place: Celestine of the Mother of God, Giuseppina Nicoli, Hendrina Stenmanns, Maria Rosa Flesch, Marta Anna Wiecka, Michal Sopocko, Petrus Kibe Kasui and 187 Companions, Susana Paz-Castillo Ramirez.

Unlike his predecessor, Benedict XVI delegated the beatification liturgical service to a Cardinal. On 29 September 2005, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a communiqué announcing that henceforth beatifications would be celebrated by a representative of the Pope, usually the Prefect of that Congregation.[8]


Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his first canonizations on 23 October 2005 in St. Peter's Square when he canonized Josef Bilczewski, Alberto Hurtado SJ, Zygmunt Gorazdowski, Gaetano Catanoso, and Felice da Nicosia. The canonizations were part of a Mass that marked the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops and the Year of the Eucharist.[9] Pope Benedict XVI canonized Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia, Mother Theodore Guerin, Filippo Smaldone, and Rosa Venerini on 15 October 2006.

During his visit to Brazil in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the canonization of Frei Galvão on 11 May, while George Preca, founder of the Malta based MUSEUM, Szymon of Lipnica, Charles of Mount Argus, and Marie-Eugénie de Jésus were canonized in a ceremony held at the Vatican on 3 June 2007.[10] Preca is the first Maltese saint since the country's conversion to Christianity in A.D. 60 when St. Paul converted the inhabitants.[11] In October 2008 the following canonizations took place: Saint Alphonsa of India,[12] Gaetano Errico, Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran, Maria Bernarda Bütler. In October 2009, he canonized Jeanne Jugan, Jozef Damian de Veuster, Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński, Francisco Coll Guitart and Rafael Arnáiz Barón.[13]

Curia reform

Pope Benedict began downsizing the Roman Curia when he merged four existing pontifical councils into two in March 2006. The Pontifical Council for Migrants was merged with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by Cardinal Martino. Likewise, Cardinal Poupard, who headed the Pontifical Council for Culture, now also oversees the operations of what had been the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, though both Councils maintained separate officials and staffs while their status and competencies continued unchanged. In May 2007 it was decided that Interreligious Dialogue would again become a separate body under a different President.


As Pope, Benedict XVI's main role is to teach about the Catholic faith and the solutions to the problems of discerning and living the faith, a role that he can play well as a former head of the Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The main points of emphasis of his teachings are stated in more detail in Theology of Pope Benedict XVI.

"Friendship with Jesus Christ"

File:Ratzinger Szczepanow Derivative.png

According to commentators, during the Inaugural Mass, the core of the Pope's message, the most moving and famous part, is found in the last paragraph of his homily where he referred to both Jesus Christ and John Paul II. After referring to John Paul II's well-known words, "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!", Benedict XVI said:

Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us?...And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation....When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.[14]

"Friendship with Jesus Christ" is a frequent theme of his preaching.[15][16][17] He stressed that on this intimate friendship, "everything depends."[18] He has also said: "We are all called to open ourselves to this friendship with God... speaking to him as to a friend, the only One who can make the world both good and happy... That is all we have to do is put ourselves at his an extremely important message. It is a message that helps to overcome what can be considered the great temptation of our time: the claim, that after the Big Bang, God withdrew from history."[19] Thus, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, his main purpose was "to help foster [in the reader] the growth of a living relationship" with Jesus Christ.[18]

He took up this theme in his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est. In his personal explanation and summary of the encyclical, he stated: "If friendship with God becomes for us something ever more important and decisive, then we will begin to love those whom God loves and who are in need of us. God wants us to be friends of his friends and we can be so, if we are interiorly close to them."[20] Thus, he said that prayer is "urgently needed...It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work."

"Dictatorship of Relativism"

Continuing what he said in the pre-conclave Mass about what he has often referred to as the "central problem of our faith today",[21] on 6 June 2005 Pope Benedict also said:

Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ego.[22]

He said that "a dictatorship of relativism"[23] was the core challenge facing the church and humanity. At the root of this problem, he said, is Kant's "self-limitation of reason". This, he said, is contradictory to the modern acclamation of science, whose excellence is based on the power of reason to know the truth. He said that this self-amputation of reason leads to pathologies of religion such as terrorism and pathologies of science such as ecological disasters.[24] Benedict traced the failed revolutions and violent ideologies of the twentieth century to a conversion of partial points of view into absolute guides. He said "Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism."[25]

In an address to a conference of the Diocese of Rome held at the basilica of St. John Lateran 6 June 2005, Benedict remarked on the issues of same sex marriage and abortion:

The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man...from here it becomes all the more clear how contrary it is to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman, to systematically close their union to the gift of life, and even worse to suppress or tamper with the life that is born.[26]

The Pope-923
Christianity as religion according to reason

In the discussion with secularism and rationalism, one of Benedict's basic ideas can be found in his address on the "Crisis of Culture" in the West, a day before Pope John Paul II died, when he referred to Christianity as the Religion of the Logos (the Greek for "word", "reason", "meaning", or "intelligence"). He said:

From the beginning, Christianity has understood itself as the religion of the Logos, as the religion according to reason...It has always defined men, all men without distinction, as creatures and images of God, proclaiming for them...the same dignity. In this connection, the Enlightenment is of Christian origin and it is no accident that it was born precisely and exclusively in the realm of the Christian faith....It was and is the merit of the Enlightenment to have again proposed these original values of Christianity and of having given back to reason its own voice... Today, this should be precisely [Christianity's] philosophical strength, in so far as the problem is whether the world comes from the irrational, and reason is not other than a 'sub-product,' on occasion even harmful of its development—or whether the world comes from reason, and is, as a consequence, its criterion and goal...In the so necessary dialogue between secularists and Catholics, we Christians must be very careful to remain faithful to this fundamental line: to live a faith that comes from the Logos, from creative reason, and that, because of this, is also open to all that is truly rational.[27]

Benedict also emphasized that "Only creative reason, which in the crucified God is manifested as love, can really show us the way."

Encyclicals: Love and hope

Pope Benedict has to date written three encyclicals, Deus Caritas Est (Latin for "God is Love"), Spe Salvi ("Saved by Hope"), and Caritas in Veritate ("Love in Truth").

In his first encyclical, "God is love", he said that a human being, created in the image of God who is love, is able to practice love: to give himself to God and others (agape), by receiving and experiencing God's love in contemplation (eros). This life of love, according to him, is the life of the saints such as Teresa of Calcutta and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is the direction Christians take when they believe that God loves them in Jesus Christ.[28]

The encyclical contains almost 16,000 words in 42 paragraphs. The first half is said to have been written by Benedict in German, his mother tongue, in the summer of 2005; the second half is derived from uncompleted writings left by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.[29] The document was signed by Pope Benedict on Christmas Day, 25 December 2005.[30] The encyclical was promulgated a month later in Latin and was translated into English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish. It is the first encyclical to be published since the Vatican decided to assert copyright in the official writings of the Pope.[31]

Pope Benedict's second encyclical titled Spe Salvi ("Saved by Hope"), about the virtue of hope, was released on 30 November 2007.[32][33]

Benedict's third encyclical titled Caritas in Veritate ("Love in Truth" or "Charity in Truth"), was signed on 29 June 2009 (the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul) and released on 7 July 2009.[34] In it, the Pope continued the Church's teachings on social justice. He condemned the prevalent economic system “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,” and called on people to rediscover ethics in business and economic relations.[34]

Post-synodal apostolic exhortation

Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity) signed 22 February 2007, released in Latin, Italian, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Polish. It was made available in various languages 13 March 2007 in Rome. The English edition from Libera Editrice Vaticana is 158 pages. This apostolic exhortation "seeks to take up the richness and variety of the reflections and proposals which emerged from the recent Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops..." which was held in 2006.[35]

Motu proprio on Tridentine Mass


A pre-1969 Latin Rite altar with reredos.
The high altar of a church was usually preceded by three steps, below which were said the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Side altars usually had only one step.

On 7 July 2007, Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, declaring that upon "the request of the faithful", celebration of Mass according to the Missal of 1962 (commonly known as the Tridentine Mass), was to be more easily permitted. Stable groups who previously had to petition their bishop to have a Tridentine Mass may now merely request permission from their local priest.[36] While Summorum Pontificum directs that pastors should provide the Tridentine Mass upon the requests of the faithful, it also allows for any qualified priest to offer private celebrations of the Tridentine Mass, to which the faithful may be admitted if they wish.[37] For regularly scheduled public celebrations of the Tridentine Mass, the permission of the priest in charge of the church is required.[38]

In an accompanying letter, the Pope outlined his position concerning questions about the new guidelines,[37] emphasizing that the Tridentine Mass would not detract from the Second Vatican Council, and that the Mass of Paul VI would still be the norm and priests were not permitted to refuse to say the Mass in that form. He pointed out that use of Tridentine Mass "was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted."[37] The letter also decried "deformations of the liturgy ... because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal" as the Second Vatican Council was wrongly seen "as authorizing or even requiring creativity", mentioning his own experience.[37]

The Pope also considered that allowing the Tridentine Mass to those who request it was a means to prevent schism, stating that, on occasions in past history, "not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity" and that this "imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.[37] Many feel the decree aimed at ending the schism between the Holy See and traditionalist groups such as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Darío Castrillón Cardinal Hoyos, the president of the Pontifical Commission that oversees the Tridentine Mass stated that the decree "opened the door for their return," and said "I wouldn't understand if they don't come back." Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, expressed "deep gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this great spiritual benefit",[36] but also said that the group "had to iron out doctrinal differences with the Vatican before a reconciliation could take place."

Some Catholic voices feared that the move would entail a reversal of the Second Vatican Council.[39]

Unicity and Salvific Universality of the Church

Near the end of June 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document approved by Benedict XVI "because some contemporary theological interpretations of Vatican II's ecumenical intent had been 'erroneous or ambiguous' and had prompted confusion and doubt."[40] The document has been seen as restating "key sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, Dominus Iesus."[40]


Benedict XVI has condemned excessive consumerism, especially among youth. He stated in December 2007 that "[A]dolescents, youths and even children are easy victims of the corruption of love, deceived by unscrupulous adults who, lying to themselves and to them, draw them into the dead-end streets of consumerism."[41]

In June 2009, he blamed outsourcing for greater availability of consumer goods which lead to downsizing of social security systems.[42]

Ecumenical efforts

Speaking at his weekly audience in St Peter's Square on 7 June 2006, Pope Benedict asserted that Jesus himself had entrusted the leadership of the Church to his apostle Peter. "Peter's responsibility thus consists of guaranteeing the communion with Christ," said Pope Benedict. "Let us pray so that the primacy of Peter, entrusted to poor human beings, may always be exercised in this original sense desired by the Lord, so that it will be increasingly recognised in its true meaning by brothers who are still not in communion with us."

Dialogue with other religions

Pope Benedict is open to dialogue with other religious groups, and has sought to improve relations with them throughout his pontificate. He has, however, generated certain controversies in doing so.


When Benedict ascended to the Papacy his election was welcomed by the Anti-Defamation League who noted "his great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust".[43] However, his election received a more reserved response from the United Kingdom's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who hoped that Benedict would "continue along the path of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in working to enhance relations with the Jewish people and the State of Israel."[44] The Foreign Minister of Israel also offered more tentative praise, though the Minister believed that "this Pope, considering his historical experience, will be especially committed to an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism."[44]

Critics have accused Benedict's papacy as being insensitive towards Judaism. The two most prominent instances were the expanding the use of the Tridentine Mass and the lifting of the excommunication on four bishops from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). In the Good Friday service, the traditional Mass rubrics include a prayer that asks God to lift the veil so they [Jews] may be delivered from their darkness. This prayer has historically been contentious in Judaic-Catholic relations and the several groups saw the restoration of the Latin Mass as problematic.[45][46][47][48][49] Among those whose excommunications was lifted was Bishop Richard Williamson. This caused controversy because Williamson is an outspoken Holocaust denier. [50][51][52][53] The lifting of his excommunication led critics to charge that the Pope was condoning his anti-Semitic views.[54]


Pope Benedict's relations with Islam have been strained at times. On 12 September 2006 Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture which touched on Islam at the University of Regensburg in Germany. The pope had previously served as professor of theology at the university, and his lecture was entitled "Faith, Reason and the University—Memories and Reflections". The lecture received much attention from political and religious authorities. Many Islamic politicians and religious leaders registered their protest against what they said was an insulting mischaracterization of Islam, although his focus was aimed towards the rationality of religious violence, and its effect on the religion.[55][56] Muslims were particularly offended by the following quotation from the Pope's speech:

Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.[56]

The passage originally appeared in the “Dialogue Held With A Certain Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia written in 1391 as an expression of the views of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, one of the last Christian rulers before the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire, on such issues as forced conversion, holy war, and the relationship between faith and reason. According to the German text, the Pope's original comment was that the emperor "addresses his interlocutor in an astoundingly harsh—to us surprisingly harsh—way" (wendet er sich in erstaunlich schroffer, uns überraschend schroffer Form).[57] Pope Benedict apologised for any offence he had caused and made a point of visiting Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, and praying in its Blue Mosque.

Pope Benedict XVI planned on 5 March 2008, to meet with Muslim scholars and religious leaders autumn 2008 at a Catholic-Muslim seminar in Rome.[58] That meeting, the "First Meeting of the Catholic-Muslim Forum," was held from November 4-6, 2008.[59]

Tibetan Buddhism

The Dalai Lama congratulated Pope Benedict XVI upon his election,[60] and visited him in October 2006 in the Vatican City. In 2007 China was accused of using its political influence to stop a meeting between the Pope and the Dalai Lama.[61]

Indigenous American beliefs

While visiting Brazil in May 2007, "the pope sparked controversy by saying that native populations had been 'silently longing' for the Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers."[62] The Pope continued, stating that "the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture."[62] President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela demanded an apology, and an indigenous organization in Ecuador issued a response which stated that "representatives of the Catholic Church of those times, with honorable exceptions, were accomplices, deceivers and beneficiaries of one of the most horrific genocides of all humanity."[62] Later, the pope, speaking Italian, said at a weekly audience that it was:

"not possible to forget the suffering and the injustices inflicted by colonizers against the indigenous population, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled."[63]

International Society for Krishna Consciousness

While visiting the United States on 17 April 2008, Benedict met with International Society for Krishna Consciousness representative Radhika Ramana Dasa;[64] a notable Hindu scholar[65] and disciple of Hanumatpreshaka Swami.[66] On behalf of the Hindu American community, Radhika Ramana Dasa presented a gift of an Om symbol[67] to Benedict.[68][69]

Apostolic ministry

As Pontiff, Benedict XVI carries out numerous Apostolic activities including journeys across the world and in the Vatican.

Benedict traveled extensively during the first three years of his papacy. In addition to his travels within Italy, Pope Benedict XVI has made two visits to his homeland, Germany, one for World Youth Day and another to visit the towns of his childhood. He has also visited Poland and Spain, where he was enthusiastically received. His visit to Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, was initially overshadowed by the controversy about a lecture he had given at Regensburg. His visit was met by nationalist and Islamic protesters[70] and was placed under unprecedented security measures.[71] However, the trip went ahead and Benedict made a joint declaration with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in an attempt to begin to heal the rift between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

In 2007, Pope Benedict visited Brazil in order to address the Bishops' Conference there and canonise Friar Antônio Galvão, an 18th century Franciscan. In June 2007, Benedict made a personal pilgrimage and pastoral visit to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. In September, Benedict undertook a three day visit to Austria,[72] during which he joined Vienna's chief rabbi in a memorial to the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps.[73] During his stay in Austria, he also celebrated Mass at the Marian shrine Mariazell and visited Heiligenkreuz Abbey.[74]

In April 2008 Pope Benedict XVI made his first visit to the United States since becoming pope.[75] He arrived in Washington, DC where he was formally received at the White House and met privately with U.S. President George W. Bush.[76] While in Washington, the pope addressed representatives of US Catholic universities, met with leaders of other world religions, and celebrated Mass at the Washington Nationals baseball stadium with 47,000 people.[77] The Pope also met privately with victims of sexual abuse by priests. The pope traveled to New York where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly.[78] Also while in New York, the pope celebrated Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, met with disabled children and their families, and attended an event for Catholic youth, where he addressed some 25,000 young people in attendance.[79] On the final day of the pope's visit, he visited the World Trade Center site and later celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium.[80]

In July 2008 the Pope travelled to Australia to attend World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. On 19 July, in St. Mary's Cathedral, he made an apology for child sex abuse perpetrated by the clergy in Australia.[81][82] On 13 September 2008, at an outdoor Paris Mass attended by 250,000 people, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the modern materialism - the world's love of power, possessions and money as a modern-day plague, comparing it to paganism.[83][84]

The Pope visited France in September 2008, where he condemned modern materialism. In 2009, he visited Africa (Cameroon, a former German colony, and Angola) for the first time as a Pope. During his visit, he suggested that altering sexual behavior was the answer to Africa's AIDS crisis, and urged Catholics to reach out and convert believers in sorcery.

He visited the Middle East (Jordan, Israel and Palestine) in May 2009.

Pope Benedict's main arena for pastoral activity is the Vatican itself, his Christmas and Easter homilies and Urbi et Orbi are delieved from St Peter's Basilica. The Vatican is also the only regular place where the Pope travels via moter without the protective bullet proof case common to most popemobiles. Despite the more secure setting Pope Benedict has been victim to security risks several times inside Vatican City. On Wednesday, 6 June 2007 during his General Audience a man lept across a barrier, evaded guards and nearly mounted the Pope's vehicle, although he was stopped and Benedict seemed to be unaware of the event. [85] On Thursday, 24 December 2009, while Pope Benedict was proceeding to the altar to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter's Basilica, a woman later identified as 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo, who holds Italian and Swiss citizenships, jumped the barrier and grabbed the pope by his vestments and pulled him to the ground. The 82-year-old fell but was assisted to his feet and he continued to proceed towards the altar to celebrate Mass. Roger Cardinal Etchegaray, 87, the vice-dean of the College of Cardinals was injured, suffering a hip fracture in a fall. Italian police revealed that the woman had previously attempted to accost the Pope at the previous Christmas Eve Mass, but was prevented from doing so.[86][87]

In his homily, Pope Benedict forgave Susanna Maiolo [88] and urged the world to "wake up" from selfishness and petty affairs, and find time for God and spiritual matters.[89]


Pope Benedict XVI has re-introduced several papal garments which had previously fallen into disuse. Pope Benedict XVI resumed the use of the traditional red papal shoes, which had not been used since early in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Contrary to the initial speculation of the press that the shoes had been made by the Italian fashion house Prada, the Vatican announced that the shoes were provided by the pope's personal cobbler.

On 21 December 2005, the pope began wearing the camauro, the traditional red papal hat usually worn in the winter. It had not been seen since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII (1958–1963). On 6 September 2006 the pope began wearing the red cappello romano (also called a saturno), a wide-brimmed hat for outdoor use. Rarely used by John Paul II, it was more widely worn by his predecessors.


Because of age-related health problems, and in order to have free time to write, he had hoped to retire, and submitted his resignation three times, but had continued at his post in obedience to the wishes of Pope John Paul II. In September 1991, Ratzinger suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which slightly impaired his eyesight temporarily. This was known to the Conclave that elected him Pope. In August 1992, on a vacation in the Alps, he fell and struck his head against a radiator. In May 2005, the Vatican revealed that he had subsequently suffered another mild stroke; it did not reveal when, other than that it had occurred between 2003 and 2005. France's Philippe Cardinal Barbarin further revealed that since the first stroke, Ratzinger had been suffering from a heart condition as a result of his age, and is currently on medication. It is also notable that he appears to be in far better health than his predecessor was at the age of 79.[90] In late November 2006, an unconfirmed rumor emerged that Pope Benedict had undergone an operation in preparation for an eventual bypass operation, and that the bronchitis suffered by the Pope has put undue pressure on the Pope's heart.[91]

On Friday 17 July 2009 Benedict was hospitalized after falling and breaking his right wrist while on vacation in the Alps. His injuries were reported to be minor.[92] Benedict is thought to be right-handed.[93]

  1. The man who should be Pope Issue: 5 March 2005, The
  2. Pope 'prayed not to be elected' Quote from a CNN Interview, 25 April 2005.
  3. Official translation taken from
  4. Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience Speech, The Vatican, 27 April 2005.
  5. - Canonisation of Pope John Paul II
  6. Canonization process
  7. Inauguration of beatification process
  8. - Communiqué on beatification process
  9. First Canonizations
  10. Canonizations in May-June 2007
  11. Parallel Greek New Testament
  12. Pope Announces Canonisation of India's First Native Woman Saint from Vatican Radio
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    "The latest issue of the SSPX's newsletter for German-speaking countries ... contains several anti-Semitic statements. 'The Jewish people were once the chosen people. But the majority of the people denied the Messiah on his first coming,' reads the February issue's cover story .... According to the newsletter article, this is why the Bible's Gospel of Matthew states, 'His blood be upon us and upon our children,' a phrase historically used by some Christians to justify anti-Semitism."
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  65. Young Vaisnava Scholar to Bring a Gift to the Pope ISKCON News
  66. Faculty Bhaktivedanta College
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  83., Pope Condemns Materialism as "Pagan"
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