age, origins, mocking nickname, illness, where does he live… all about the “seriously ill” ex-pope

Pope from 2005 to 2013, Benedict XVI is the first bishop of Rome to have resigned during his pontificate. Now 95, the 265th pope of the Catholic Church is said to be in critical condition. Here’s everything you need to know about Benedict XVI…

Pope of the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, Benedict XVI broke longevity records. On April 16, 2022, he celebrated his 95th birthday, but his state of health is now said to be critical and Pope Francis has called for prayers for him, this December 28th. What are the origins of the former cardinal? What life did he lead before his election to the Holy See? What disease does he suffer from? We tell you everything.

What are the origins of Benedict XVI?

It was in Marktl, Germany, that Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927. Benedict XVI grew up in Bavaria in a modest family and studied Latin, Greek, history and literature. From an early age, he bathed in Catholicism. His brother Georg also embraces the path of religion and becomes a priest. He died in 2020 at the age of 96. His parents are strongly opposed to Nazism – a decisive position for the rest of his life.

Why was he taken prisoner of war?

Benedict XVI grew up in the heart of Nazism, in a climate of hostility towards the Catholic Church in Germany. Forced into the Hitler Youth as a teenager, he was forced to follow his military service and was assigned in 1944 to a unit of the Austrian Legion. He will end up deserting when the rumor of Hitler’s suicide begins to spread, in April 1935, and a few days before the surrender of the German army. Joseph Ratzinger returns to his parents in Traunstein. He was then interned until June 19, 1945 in a prisoner of war camp in Bad Aibling, Bavaria. He will spend six weeks there.

When was he elected Pope?

In 1951, Benedict XVI’s life took a new turn when he was ordained a priest. He discovers a theological vocation which will guide his choices. At the age of 31, the German became a professor of dogmatics and theology in Germany. On March 25, 1977, Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising. He accumulates responsibilities within the Church. Everything changes when John Paul II dies. After a conclave of just over 24 hours, on April 19, 2005, he became the 265th Pope of the Catholic Church.

What position does Benedict XVI adopt (and this unflattering nickname)?

Benedict XVI is nicknamed the “Rottweiler of God”. What is this nickname worth to him? The pope emeritus is known for his traditional positions. He defends the “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman and strongly condemns abortion and euthanasia.

At the beginning of 2022, Benedict XVI made people talk about him. The former cardinal is tainted in a sexual abuse case from when he was in the diocese of Munich – the man was then archbishop. A report indicates that he would have concealed the facts, the totality of which occurred between between 1945 and 2019. Benedict XVI denies having lied and deplores “mistakes that have taken place in different places during my tenure”. He will declare in a letter read to the Vatican in February 2022: “I understood that we ourselves are drawn into this grave fault each time we neglect it or do not face it with the necessary determination and responsibility.”

Where has Benedict XVI lived since his withdrawal from the Vatican?

On February 11, 2013, a thunderclap within the Church: Benedict XVI announces that he is stepping down as Pope. Then 86 years old, he invokes health reasons. It’s a first. Pope Francis, who succeeds him, during the conclave held on March 12, 2013. He has since lived in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, a small Roman-style palace in the gardens of Vatican City.

Since then, Benedict XVI has broken records: on September 4, 2020, he becomes oldest pope in contemporary history by surpassing the longevity record of Leo XIII, who died on July 20, 1903 in Rome at the age of 93 years and 140 days. February 11, 2023 will mark 10 years since the historic renunciation of the German pope.

What disease does Benedict XVI suffer from?

For several years, Benedict XVI has suffered from an infectious disease. The former Pope has erysipelas on his face, a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the skin. Result ? Itching accompanied by intense pain. This disease mainly affects people over 40, with a risk that increases with age. A treatment for erysipelas exists and can alleviate the symptoms.

However, in April 2022, his secretary the German Archbishop Georg Gänswein announced that Joseph was in good health. He told the Italian weekly Oggi that “his movements are slow” and that he needed to rest more. Pope Francis gave news of Benedict XVI from the Vatican. On December 28, at the end of an audience in the Vatican, the Pope called on the faithful to pray for his predecessor. Think of him – he is very sick – asking the Lord to console him and sustain him in this testimony of love for the Church, until the end”he says.

The Holy See will specify that “the aggravation” of his state of health is due to his age “advanced”. Pope Francis later visited him at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery.