Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has been selected by the Roman Catholic Church as the new pope. He has chosen the name Benedict XVI.
Son of a police officer, Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl Am Inn, Germany. He was the son of a police officer who came from a traditional family of farmers in Lower Bavaria, according to his Vatican biography.
He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, and was called into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the last months of World War II. He deserted the Germany army in 1945 and returned to Traunstein, where he was taken prisoner by U.S. troops.
In June 1945, he was released from a U.S. POW camp and returned home, hitching a ride on a milk truck.
From 1946 to 1951, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at another school in Freising. He was ordained a priest in 1951.
In 1953, he received his doctorate in theology. His doctoral thesis was titled, "The People and House of God in St. Augustine's Doctrine of the Church."
Four years later, he was qualified as a university teacher and taught dogma and fundamental theology at four different German universities.
In 1962, at age 35, he served as a consultant during Vatican II to Cardinal Frings, who was the archbishop of Cologne, Germany.
In 1969, he was named professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg, where he was also named vice president.
In March 1977, he was named archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI. When he was consecrated on May 28, 1977, he was the first diocesan priest after 80 years to take over the pastoral ministry of the large Bavarian diocese.
A month later, he was elevated to cardinal by Pope Paul VI. He was archbishop of Munich until November 25, 1981, when he was nominated by Pope John Paul II to be the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position he held until his election as pope. He became dean of the College of Cardinals in November 2002.
Benedict turned 78 on Saturday, the oldest pope elected since Clement XII in 1730. His age clearly was a factor among cardinals who favored a "transitional" pope who could skillfully lead the church as it absorbs John Paul II's legacy, rather than a younger cardinal who could wind up with another long pontificate.
His election in four ballots over two days - the first of Tuesday's afternoon session - concluded one of the shortest conclaves in 100 years.
The name he took draws a connection to Benedict XV, the Italian pontiff from 1914 to 1922 who had the difficult task of providing leadership for Catholic countries on opposite sides of World War I. His declared neutrality and repeated protests against inhumane weapons like poison gas angered both sides.
Benedict was also known for his outreach to Muslims and efforts to close the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with Christian Orthodox churches - a possible signal that this could be a priority of his papacy.