The making of a pope

From boyhood to war to seminary to the Vatican, images trace the career of Joseph Ratzinger, elected as the 265th pope of the Catholic Church.

Joseph Ratzinger, who in 2005 became the 265th pope, posed for this 1938 photo with his father Josef, sister Maria, mother Maria and brother Georg.


The future pope served as a German military anti-aircraft unit helper in 1943, during World War II. When he turned 18, he was drafted into the German military but deserted shortly thereafter.


In 1951, Ratzinger, right, and his brother were ordained as Catholic priests in Freising, southern Germany. Ratzinger had studied philosophy and theology in the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology of Freising and at the University of Munich.

Timm Schamberger / AFP

By 1955, when this photo was taken, Ratzinger was a lecturer for dogmatic and fundamental theology in Freising, southern Germany. He went on to teach at Bonn, from 1959 to 1963.


Ratzinger greeted the faithful in Munich upon becoming the cardinal of Munich and Freising on July 1, 1977.


Ratzinger, center, joins other cardinals marching into the Sistine Chapel on Oct. 14, 1978, for the start of the conclave that chose the late John Paul II as pope.


In 1982, then-Cardinal Ratzinger shakes hands with two women who waited with thousands in Munich to bid farewell to Ratzinger as he took leave from his Bavarian believers to head the Congregation of Faith in the Vatican.

Diether Endlicher / AP

Ratzinger, right, visits with Bishop Karl Lehmann during a Catholic meeting in the eastern German city of Dresden in July 1987.


Ratzinger at a mass to celebrate the 2,000-year anniversary of the western German city of Speyer in 1990.

Stringer/germany / X01278

Ratzinger shakes hands with Rabbi Rene Samuel Sirat during the International Jewish/Christian conference on modern social and scientific challenges in Jerusalem, February 1994.

Menahem Kahana / AFP

Ratzinger presents the latest encyclical "Fides et Ratio" of Pope John Paul II during a press conference in the Vatican, October 1998. The pontiff pleads in this encyclical for a bridging of the gap between faith and reason and warns against nihilism and certain trends of modern thinking.

Gerard Julien / AFP

Ratzinger celebrates a memorial mass at St. Peter's Basilica for the souls of deceased Popes Paul VI and John Paul I on September 27, 2003.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images Europe

Paris Archbishop Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger (L) and Ratzinger attend the pope's Sunday blessing in St. Peter's Square September 28, 2003. The pope named 30 new cardinals, along with one unnamed prelate, to choose the pope's successor in the event of his death. The unnamed cardinal, "in pectore", meaning secret, is a practice used if the cardinal is in an area where there is hostility toward religion.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images Europe

Pope John Paul II waves to cardinals and bishops during a ceremony ending their meeting at the Vatican in October 2003 as Ratzinger looks on. Cardinals from around the world descended on the Vatican for the biggest gathering of Catholic Church hierarchy in years, during several days of celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's election.

Paolo Cocco / AFP

Cardinals Angelo Sodano (C) and Ratzinger during the palm procession prior the Palm Sunday mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square. The Catholic Church on Sunday began ceremonies for the Holy Week of Easter, in which a convalescent Pope John Paul II, for the first time in his 26-year papacy, played only a minor role as he battled to recover from his recent throat operation.

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP

Cardinal Ratzinger, acting as substitute for the pope, showes the gospel book during the celebration of the Easter Vigil service in Saint Peter's Basilica in March 2005 in Vatican City. Pope John Paul II remained in his private apartment due to poor health.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images Europe

Cardinal Ratzinger blesses the coffin of Pope John Paul II during his funeral mass in St Peter's Square at Vatican City, April 8, 2005. The world looked on as leaders from more than 100 nations and a multitude of mourners gathered for the popes's funeral, one of the most cherished pontiffs in history. Cardinal Ratzinger was elected to succeed Pope John Paul II, becoming Pope Benedict XVI.

Patrick Hertzog / AFP