Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, is celebrating his 82nd birthday today at the papal retreat in Castel Gandalfo.
Having completed the exhausting schedule of Holy Week activities, the Holy Father is quietly celebrating his birthday at the apostolic palace.
Yesterday at the weekly General Audience, well wishers sang “Happy Birthday” to the Pope in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Croatian and Italian. Pope Benedict will also soon be celebrating the anniversary of his election to the papacy, which falls on April 19.
Commenting on the Pope's birthday, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday that he hopes that the Holy Father "may long continue to carry out his ministry, ... helping the men and women of today to find God."
Fr. Lombardi added that the “focus of his concern is to bring mankind to God and God to mankind, through a great personal love for Christ.”
This often means adopting a “critical attitude” towards the numerous negative aspects of today's culture and mentality, but, the press director noted, “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 baptized, was born on April 16, 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 March 24, 1977, Pope Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich and Freising, making him a cardinal on June 27, 1977. In 1981 he was nominated by Pope 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.
He was elected as Pope on April 19, 2005, the second day of the conclave.