On February 11 of this year, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation as of February 28,2013.
Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany, he was ordained as a priest in 1951. " At the moment the elderly Archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird- perhaps a lark- flew up from the alter in the high cathedral and trilled a little joyful song," stated the Pope.
April 2005 saw him elected successor to Pope John Paul ll. He chose 'Benedict' for his Papal name...a Latin term for 'blessed.' "Dear brothers and sisters ," he said softly, "After the great John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble laborer 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." He concluded, "Thank you."
Pope Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope and serves dual roles; Sovereign of Vatican City and the leader of the Catholic Church. He is considered to be theologically conservative and a defender of the traditional Catholic doctrine. Prior to his Papal role, Ratzinger served as a professor, a theologian and a dean.
Pope Benedict XVI speaks French and Italian fluently. He also has a command of Latin, English, Spanish and Portuguese. He can read Ancient Greek and Biblical Hebrew. His Papal quarters sport a grand piano where he plays his beloved Mozart and Bach. Benedict is a member of several scientific academies, holds 8 honorary doctorates and has written 66 books. His love of cats is evident as a house cat is often brought to him for a lap companion when he arrives at myriad destinations to serve the people.
Of the frequent theme, 'Friendship with Christ,' the Pope said, " If friendship with God becomes for us something ever more important and decisive, we begin to love those whom God loves and who are in need of us. God wants us to be friends and we can be so, if we are entirely close to him."
Citing deteriorating strength and the physical and mental demands of the Papacy as his reasoning for resignation, Pope Benedict XVI stated, "I will continue to serve the church through a life of dedicated prayer."