Chalk drawing of Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger. Pope Benedict XVI was born April 16, 1927 as Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany. He is the 265th reigning pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City. He was elected on April 19, 2005, in a papal conclave over which he presided in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals. He celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on April 24, 2005 and was enthroned in the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano) on May 7, 2005.

One of the most influential academic theologians since the 1960s and author of many books, he is viewed as conservative and a close ally of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. He served as professor at various German universities, Archbishop of Munich, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Dean of the College of Cardinals before becoming Pope.

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