Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Alois Ratzinger (born April 16, 1927) is the 265th and reigning Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and sovereign of Vatican City State. He was elected on April 19, 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on April 24, 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on May 7, 2005. Pope Benedict XVI has both German and Vatican citizenship.
One of the best-known theologians since the 1960s and a prolific author, he is viewed as a staunch defender of Catholic traditional doctrine and a steadfast advocate of Christian moral values and their importance in the survival of humanity. As a renowned theologian, he is considered to be conservative and a close ally of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. He served as a professor at various German universities, and was a theological expert at the Second Vatican Council before becoming Archbishop of Munich and Freising and Cardinal. At the time of his election as Pope, he had been Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (curial heads lose their positions upon the death of a pope) and was Dean of the College of Cardinals.
During his papacy, Benedict XVI has particularly emphasized what he sees as a need for Europe to return to fundamental Christian values, in response to increasing de-Christianisation and secularisation in many developed countries. For this, he has identified relativism's denial of objective truth as the central problem of the faith and has taught about the crucial importance for the Catholic Church and humanity to contemplate God's love, and thus has reaffirmed the urgent "importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work."