The aim of this thesis is to study the convictions of Ratzinger the theologian, with specific reference to his ecclesiological positions, commitments or convictions. It is my humble opinion that understanding Ratzinger’s systematic approach to the question of the Church is crucial in analyzing his impact on Catholicism and the world, especially on the many fronts where he engaged issues from the perspective of the faith and as a theologian. This thesis explores Benedict from the inside, from the internal theological and formative forces and convictions that shaped him and contributed to his making the decision that shook the world on February 11, 2013. Besides the media speculations and obvious embarrassing stories that emerged from the papal household, such as the theft of his private papers by his own butler; the belated effort by the communication machinery bogged down in the realm of endless bureaucratic ritual and unable to come to terms with a Pope who seemed more inclined to the religious dimension of his papacy than staging theatrical media drama. It is my strong conviction that, for a man who had withstood so much pressure and opprobrium throughout most of his ecclesiastical career, Ratzinger’s renunciation of papal power came about through the lens with which he had often judged and discerned situations – the life of the Church, the gift of the Church and what was best for this Church that had meant all to Ratzinger. His remarkable final public address, delivered on February 27, 2013, captures this sentiment. It reads in part: When, on 19 April almost eight years ago I accepted to take on the Petrine ministry, I had the firm certainty that has always accompanied me: this certainty for the life of the Church from the Word of God. At that moment, as I have already expressed many times, the words that resounded in my heart were: Lord, what do You ask of me? It is a great weight that You are placing on my shoulders but, if You ask it of me, I will cast my nets at your command, confident that You will guide me, even with all my weaknesses. And eight years later I can say that the Lord has guided me. He has been close to me. I have felt His presence every day. It has been a stretch of the Church's path that has had moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments. I felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and light breezes, days when the fishing was plentiful, but also times when the water was rough and the winds against us, just as throughout the whole history of the Church, when the Lord seemed to be sleeping. But I always knew that the Lord is in that boat and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, not ours, but is His. And the Lord will not let it sink. He is the one who steers her, of course also through those He has chosen because that is how He wanted it. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. And that is why my heart today is filled with gratitude to God, because He never left—the whole Church or me—without His consolation, His light, or His love. These profound words of inspiration mirror the character of a churchman who placed the good of the Church before his own personal interest. It was a significant message to those in the Church, especially within the clerical ranks that tended to pursue careerism, even at the detriment of the Church’s mission of spreading the gospel. Within the context of the infighting that had rocked the Roman Curia under Benedict XVI’s watch that came to a head with his butler stealing and revealing his private papers to the media, the former pontiff appeared to be far above the moral mendacity in the Roman Curia that had become a house divided within itself with the brazen maneuvering and infighting that was embarrassing the Church. It is important to make the distinction between the sincere love of the Church by Benedict and the administrative setbacks he faced, which were all counter-productive to his vision of the Church as a community of love and truth. This thesis is divided into Three Chapters. Chapter One considers Ratzinger’s Bavarian roots in terms of the effects these had on his theological imagination, particularly his experience of Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s. Ratzinger’s vision of liturgical ecclesiology was definitely affected by the religious piety of his native Bavaria. Foundational to this first chapter is the conviction that the human being is often subjected to and formed by varied life-formative experiences and encounters. The public display of Catholic faith in Bavaria, the rituals and public processions, the times and seasons of Catholic life that affected even the daily menu of Bavarians, instilled in Ratzinger a deep conviction that Catholicism was not just a cultic liturgical expression, but a deep transforming experience that oriented all to a communion. Chapter Two examines the theological attitudes that shaped Ratzinger’s ecclesiology, which are helpful in understanding his theological assumptions. This chapter considers Ratzinger’s theological formation in Augustine and Bonaventure, Ratzinger’s theological mentors. In Augustine, Ratzinger saw the Church as the people and house of God, formed by the spirit of Caritas. This Church is universal and the central act of worship is the Eucharist. In Bonaventure, Ratzinger found a transcendental and spiritual vision of the Church and history that is determined by a vision that is eschatologically triumphant, with a Christo-cosmic consciousness that spans the life of the Church, from ecclesia ab Abel – the Church of the Just, to the ecclesia contemplativa – the final and definitive form of the Church’s existence. This triumph of the Church can only come about through patient endurance of suffering and rejection on the part of the Church, after the pattern of Christ. Chapter Three proposes theological insights and implications from understanding the Church from the perspective of the Bavaria, Augustine and Bonaventure of Joseph Ratzinger, with the aim of offering the Church of today lessons that could be helpful to the Church’s contemporary evangelical efforts.