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Pope Benedict XVI

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This individual is not a direct affiliate of the Berkley Center.

Pope Benedict XVI (emeritus) was the head of the Roman Catholic Church from 2005 until 2013, when he voluntarily resigned from the papacy. He was born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927 and became a respected theologian and university professor. He served as an advisor at the Second Vatican Council, where he joined Karl Rahner in advancing a progressive agenda. He went on to spend over two decades as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he gained a reputation as a doctrinal hardliner, seemingly trying to correct what he took as misapplications of the Council’s intended spirit. He ascended to the papacy in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II, to whom he was a close friend and advisor, and has issued three encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi, and Caritas in veritate.
Benedict has furthered conversations with Muslim, Jewish, and Eastern Orthodox leaders, but he incited controversy when he quoted a passage that some interpreted as derogatory towards Islam in a 2006 speech. He has since undertaken extensive dialogue with Muslim leaders. He was also criticized by Jewish leaders for lifting the excommunication of a traditionalist Catholic who is a Holocaust denier. Benedict later said the bishop would have to change his views to be fully accepted back into the Church. Though he has remained largely uninvolved in politics, Benedict has been an outspoken critic of the US military campaign in Iraq, as well as the secularization of Europe and the suppression of religious freedom in China. Recently, Benedict has indicated that environmental ethics are to be included within the Church’s understanding of social justice.