The most frequently asked questions about Pope Benedict XVI

On Dec. 28 the press office of the Holy See announced that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's condition had taken a turn for the worse and that he was receiving medical care at his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican.

The news has sparked an outpouring of prayer for the 95-year-old retired pope and renewed interest among Catholics and others around the world in the details of his life and pontificate. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Benedict XVI:

How many years was Benedict pope?

He was pope for eight years, from April 19, 2005, to Feb. 11, 2013.

When and why did Benedict resign?

Benedict announced his resignation from the papacy on Feb. 11, 2013. On that day he explained that, due to his advanced age, he no longer had the strength to properly exercise the Petrine ministry.

Why is he called pope emeritus?

The title with which the pontiff is designated, who of his own free will decides to resign from the papal ministry, is pope emeritus or also bishop emeritus of Rome.

Where does Pope Benedict XVI live?

Pope Benedict XVI lives in Mater Ecclesiae, a monastery in Vatican City. This place was named in honor of the Virgin Mary (Mother of the Church) and is located on Vatican Hill within the Vatican gardens.

How old is Pope Benedict?

Benedict is 95 years old.

Where is Benedict from?

Benedict was born in the city of Marktl, in Bavaria, southern Germany.

How many trips did Benedict make?

During his pontificate, Benedict visited 24 countries on six continents. Antarctica was the only continent he didn't travel to as pope.

Did Benedict have siblings?

Yes, Benedict was the youngest of three siblings. His siblings were Georg and Maria Ratzinger, both of whom have died. Georg, who died on July 1, 2020, was a priest.

Why did he take the name, Benedict XVI?

After being elected pope, he chose the name Benedict XVI inspired by the memory of St. Benedict of Nursia, the man who founded the Benedictine order and who is considered the patron saint of the West, and also as"a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War."

Is it true that Benedict was part of the Nazi army?

Although his family did not support the Nazis, at age 16, Joseph Ratzinger was forcibly recruited into the German army during World War II. He never saw combat, and in 1945 he deserted and was taken as a prisoner of war by U.S. troops.

Yes, Benedict loves cats and had two as pets when he was pope. One of them was a stray cat that he found in Rome.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC in 2005, Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone, who a year later would become the Vatican's secretary of state, said that Benedict was an "inveterate cat-lover."

"On his walk from Borgo PÍo to the Vatican, he stopped to talk with the cats; don't ask me in what language he spoke to them, but the cats were delighted. When the cardinal approached, the cats raised their heads and greeted him," the cardinal said.

Is it true that Benedict likes beer?

Yes. In fact, Weideneder Brau Vertriebs GmbH, a family-owned brewery in the town of Tann, Germany, created a special beer called Pabstbier (Pope's Beer). The label read: "Dedicated to the Great Son of our Country, Pope Benedict XVI."

How many languages does Benedict speak?

The pope emeritus is fluent in nine languages: German, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Biblical Hebrew.