Pope Benedict’s 70th Anniversary as a Priest

Pope Francis Marks Occasion After Praying Angelus in St. Peter’s Square

Pope Benedict's 70th Anniversary
Visit With Pope Benedict - Copyright: Vatican Media

Today, June 29, 2021, is Pope Benedict’s 70th anniversary as a priest. That milestone produced profound praise on the part of Pope Francis, who commented after praying the noonday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“And today marks an anniversary that touches the hearts of us all: 70 years ago, Pope Benedict was ordained a priest. [Applause],” Pope Francis said. “To you, Benedict, dear father, and brother go our affection, our gratitude, and our closeness.

“He lives in the monastery, a place intended to house the contemplative communities here in the Vatican so that they could pray for the Church. He is now the contemplative of the Vatican, who spends his life praying for the Church and for the diocese of Rome, of which he is bishop emeritus.

“Thank you, Benedict, dear father, and brother. Thank you for your credible witness. Thank you for your gaze, constantly directed towards the horizon of God: thank you!”

Ordained as a priest in 1951 in his native Bavaria, Ratzinger embarked on an academic career and established himself as a highly regarded theologian by the late 1950s. He was appointed a full professor in 1958 at the age of 31. After a long career as a professor of theology at several German universities, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals. Prior to becoming pope, he was a key advisor to John Paul II. He announced his resignation as Pope on February 11, 2013. He has lived in Rome since 1981.

Pope Benedict recently celebrated his 94th birthday and you can read Exaudi’s feature story on his life here.