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Life and Ministry of Josef A. Ratzinger

April 16, 1927
Josef Alois Ratzinger is born in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, and is baptized on the same day, Holy Saturday.

1939
Enters the minor seminary in Traunstein.

1941
Josef Ratzinger turns 14 and, as required by law at the time, he joins the Hitler Youth.

1943
At age 16, Josef Ratzinger and the rest of his seminary class are drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps. A year later he is drafted into the Austrian Legion, and undergoes basic training in the German infantry.

1945
In the Spring, Josef Ratzinger deserts the army and returns home to Traunstein. He is briefly held by American forces in a prisoner of war camp. After he is released, he and his brother Georg reenter the seminary.

1946-1951
Studies philosophy and theology at the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology of Freising and the Herzogliches Georgianum, a theological institute associated with the University of Munich.

June 29, 1951
Josef Ratzinger and brother Georg are ordained into the priesthood by Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich.

1952
Begins teaching at the Higher School of Freising.

1953
In July, Father Ratzinger receives his doctorate in theology from the University of Munich. The title of his thesis is People and House of God in St. Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church.

1957
Qualifies for university teaching. Writes his dissertation on The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure.

1959
Begins lecturing as a full time professor of fundamental theology at the University of Bonn.  On August 23, his father dies.

1962-65
Participates in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council as chief theological advisor to Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne, Germany.

1963
Starts teaching at the University of Münster. On December 16, his mother dies.

1966
Accepts a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen.

1969
The wave of student uprisings driven, in large part, by Marxist ideologies and the rejection of traditional religion upsets Father Ratzinger. He becomes disillusioned with the liberal atmosphere at Tübingen and returns to Bavaria to teach at the University of Regensburg.

1972
Founds, together with Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac and other renowned theologians, the quarterly journal of Catholic theology Communio.

March 25, 1977
Appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI.

May 28, 1977
Ordained bishop. Father Ratzinger is the first diocesan priest for 80 years to take on the pastoral governance of the Bavarian archdiocese. Chooses as his Episcopal motto: “Cooperators of the Truth.”

June 27, 1977
Elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI.  Assigned to the Church of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino.

August 25-26, 1978
Takes part in the Conclave which elects John Paul I.

October 15-16, 1978
Takes part in the Conclave that elects Pope John Paul II.

1980
Pope John Paul II asks him to lead the Congregation for Catholic Education at the Vatican. He declines.

November 25, 1981
Pope John Paul II names Cardinal Ratzinger prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission.

1984
Receives an honorary doctorate from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

1986
Receives an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Lima, Peru.

1987
Receives an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Eichstätt.

1988
Receives an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Lublin.

April 5, 1993
Elevated by Pope John Paul II to the Order of Bishops within the College of Cardinals, assigning to him the suburbicarian (titulary) see of Velletri-Segni.

1986-1992
Serves as president of the Preparatory Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

1998
Receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Navarre.

November 6, 1998
Pope John Paul II approves of the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals.

1999
Receives an honorary doctorate from the LUMSA (Libera Università Maria Santissima Assunta) of Rome.

2000
Receives an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology of the University of Wroclaw in Poland.

November 13, 2000
Named an honorary academic of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

November 30, 2002
Pope John Paul II approves of the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the Dean of the College of Cardinals and gives him the title of Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.

April, 2005
Upon the death of John Paul II, resigns as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and participates in the Conclave to elect the next pope (April 18-19).

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