He called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II.
Benedict was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.
John Paul named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he took up his post a year later. Following John Paul's death in 2005, he was elected pope.
If there were any doubts about Benedict's priority to reinvigorate Christianity in Europe, his choice of a papal name was as good as any indication.
Benedict told cardinals soon after he was elected that he hoped to be a pope of peace, like Pope Benedict XV, who reigned during World War I. But the first Benedict — St. Benedict of Norcia — was also an inspiration.
The 5th and 6th century monk is a patron saint of Europe and inspired the creation of the Benedictine order, the main guardian of learning and literature in Western Europe during the dark centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.
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