Feb 11 2013 By Cheryl Mullin
POPE Benedict XVI has a reputation as a charming and shy man who is also deeply conservative in his outlook and teaching.
The German-born Pontiff, 85, who is resigning due to his age and diminishing strength, was elected to the papacy in 2005, only the second non-Italian Pope since 1522 and the oldest on election since the 18th century.
The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415.
But Pope Benedict’s decision to retire should not come as too much of a surprise.
He said after he was elected to the Papacy that he had prayed not to get the post and was hoping for a peaceful old age.
As the powerful Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was already well-known within the Catholic world before his election to the top job.
His image on elevation to the Papacy was one of an enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy and a cerebral disciplinarian who was unafraid to crack down on liberals and dissidents within the church.
While Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), he gained the nickname “God’s Rottweiler” for his pursuit of Catholic theologians and clergy seen to stray from orthodox teaching.
His pronouncements before becoming Pope included labelling homosexuality a “more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil” and saying rock music could be a “vehicle of anti-religion”.
The Pope has also proved himself to be strongly against the ordination of women as priests, euthanasia, abortion and the use of artificial birth control.
Since his election as Pontiff his image has softened, leading him to be dubbed “Benedict the Benign” in some quarters – but he has also attracted considerable controversy.