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'A Simple, Humble Worker': Pope Benedict XVI

I’m Steve Ember with In the News, in VOA Special English.

This Sunday, a special ceremony will take place for the new leader of the world's Roman Catholics, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth. The event is called the Ceremony of Investiture.

Five hundred thousand people are expected to crowd Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City to celebrate Mass with the new pope. They will include political and religious leaders from many countries. More than one thousand million people are Catholic, one-sixth of the world population.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became the two hundred sixty-fifth pope on Tuesday. He is the first German pope in nearly a thousand years. He called himself "a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."

Popes are elected for life. Benedict is seventy-eight years old. John Paul the Second was eighty-four when he died on April second. The new pope was a top advisor and close friend to John Paul.

Cardinal Ratzinger chose a name last held by a pope more than eighty years ago. Benedict the Fifteenth led the church during World One. He is remembered as a man of peace.

As Benedict the Sixteenth began his duties, he said he would continue church efforts to increase ties with other Christians and other religions. On Thursday, he re-appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano as Vatican secretary of state. Other Vatican leaders also kept their jobs.

Joseph Ratzinger was born in Bavaria in nineteen twenty-seven. He was required to join the Hitler Youth and the German Army during World War Two. He fled the military, but was held for a time by American forces as a prisoner of war.

In nineteen sixty-five, as a priest, Joseph Ratzinger served as an advisor at the Second Vatican Council. There, he supported efforts to make the church more open.

He later began to express more traditional opinions. For example, he opposes the use of birth control devices. He is against marriage for priests, or women as priests. And he opposes homosexuality.

In nineteen seventy-seven, three months after he became Bishop of Munich, Pope Paul the Sixth made him a cardinal.

Cardinal Ratzinger served for more than twenty years as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. That office enforces the teachings of the church. Until less than a century ago, it was called the Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition.

In two thousand, Cardinal Ratzinger signed a declaration that is again in the news because of his election. It said that followers of other religions are in a "gravely deficient situation" compared to those in the church.

Cardinal Ratzinger became dean of the College of Cardinals in two thousand two.

While some Catholics said they had wished for a less conservative pope, others had wished for a modern pope from the developing world. Today two-thirds of Catholics live in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

But this week the electors at the Vatican agreed quickly on their choice. On the second day of meetings, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict the Sixteenth.

In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Jerilyn Watson. I’m Steve Ember.