By Lisa McAdams

Pope Benedict the 16th, the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, established his legacy as a strict theologian and enforcer of Roman Catholic doctrine.

Born Joseph Ratzinger, he became the first German pontiff in nearly a thousand years in 2005, succeeding the popular Pope John Paul the Second.

He was well known in the Church hierarchy before his selection as pope. Under John Paul, Ratzinger became the head of the Vatican office which oversees and enforces church doctrine, the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 1981. But the more reserved Pope Benedict never developed the near rock-star status his charismatic predecessor had among many Catholics.

​​Benedict brought to the papacy some tough and controversial points of view. He opposed those advocating women be allowed to become priests, and called homosexuality an intrinsic moral evil. Benedict has also argued that predominantly Muslim Turkey does not belong in Christian Europe. And a church document he wrote maintains that Catholicism is the only true religion.

During his years as pope, Benedict worked to reinforce Church teachings against abortion, birth control and secularism.

​​During his nearly eight years as pope, Benedict faced a number of challenges -- including the prolonged priest sex abuse scandal and declining numbers of practicing Catholics in Europe and Latin America.

Benedict was born in 1927, and grew up in Nazi Germany. He became a priest in 1951 and was named archbishop of Munich in 1977. Benedict was 78 when he became pope. In his resignation, he said he no longer had the strength to fully serve the Church, but gave no details.

Vatican officials say he is expected to retire to a cloistered monastery.


VOA News. "German-Born Pope Brought Conservative Views to Vatican "


German-Born Pope Brought Conservative Views to Vatican | News of the World