Timeline of Pope Benedict XVI’s Life

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Born Joseph Ratzinger in April 16, 1927 in Bavaria, Pope Benedict XVI was a prisoner of war who later rose to become Pope John Paul II's successor. At the age of 16, Ratzinger and members of his seminary class were drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps, and two years later, he deserted the army and returned to southeastern Bavaria. During that time he was held briefly by American forces in a prisoner of war camp, and upon his release, re-entered the seminary. In 1951 he was ordained into the priesthood, and after receiving his doctorate in theology from the University of Munich in 1953, he began lecturing at the University of Bonn. By 1977 he became Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and was subsequently elevated to Cardinal of Munich by Pope Paul VI. In 1981 he was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II, and in April 2005 he was elected as the 265th pope, adopting the name Pope Benedict XVI. Click through for a NBCNews timeline.

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