Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was the 265th Pope, having been elected in April 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II. At 14, Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth, a legal requirement. In 1945, he deserted the German army and was taken prisoner by the U.S. Army. Ratzinger received a doctorate in theology at the University of Munich in 1953, having been ordained as a priest two years earlier. He is a Conservative who during his papacy advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many developed countries. On February 11, 2013, he became the first pontiff since the Middle Ages to resign.
Historic papal vote for Hong Kong's Cardinal John Tong Hon
Stuart Lau and Jennifer Cheng
The Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong Hon, will make history by becoming the first Hongkonger to vote for a pope. Whom he votes for will be his and God’s decision, according to his predecessor.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the former head of the diocese, said there was no need for Tong to “consult” others before making his decision on who should succeed Pope Benedict, who will step aside on February 28.
Benedict, 85, is the first pope to retire in six centuries.
He has cited a lack of mental and physical strength to carry out his duties. The Vatican has said it expects the next pope to be elected before Easter, which falls on March 31.
“I do not think there is a need for consultation, but Cardinal Tong, of course, will be willing to listen to others’ views should members of the church approach him,” Zen said.
Despite retaining his position as cardinal, Zen, 81, will not be voting in the election because he is over 80, the limit for cardinals. He did not vote in 2005 because he was not a cardinal until 2006.
Tong could not be reached for comment yesterday because he was on a retreat, said Dominic Yung Yuk-yu, director of the Catholic Social Communications Office. But Zen has said that God would guide all those who decide on the next pontiff.
Anthony Liu Bainian, the retired honorary chairman of the officially sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said Sino-Vatican relations had not seen any improvements under Benedict.
Additional reporting by Teddy Ng in Beijing