ROME, MAY 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI, the Bishop of Rome, is set to mark the 28th anniversary of his episcopal ordination this Saturday.
Father Joseph Ratzinger, a member of the International Theological Commission, was appointed archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI on March 24, 1977, and received episcopal ordination from the hands of Bishop Josef Stangl of Wuerzburg the following May 28.
Father Ratzinger, who had just celebrated his 50th birthday, became the first diocesan priest in 80 years to assume the pastoral governance of the large Bavarian archdiocese. Paul VI elevated him to cardinal just a month later, on June 27.
In his autobiography “Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977” (Ignatius Press, 1999), Cardinal Ratzinger recalled the date of his episcopal consecration as “an extraordinarily beautiful day,” “a radiant day at the beginning of summer, on the vigil of Pentecost of 1977.”
“I experienced the reality of the sacrament: something happens in it that is true,” he wrote. “Later, praying before the column of the Virgin Mary — the Mariensaule — in the heart of the Bavarian capital, meeting many people who welcomed the newcomer, unknown to them, with a warmth and joy which was not due so much to my person, but rather manifested once again what the sacrament is.
“They were greeting the bishop, who bears the mystery of Christ, although perhaps the majority of those present were unaware of it. But the joy of that day was in fact something different from the acceptance of a person, who still had to demonstrate his own capacity.”
As Archbishop Ratzinger, he chose words from the Third Letter of John, “co-worker in the truth,” as the spiritual theme of his episcopate.
On Nov. 25, 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Ratzinger prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission.
Because of these appointments, the cardinal resigned from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising on Feb. 15, 1982, and moved to Rome.