Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (b. 1927) was elected the 265th pope on April 19, 2005, seventeen days after the death of John Paul II. Born in Bavaria, he is the first German-born pope in nearly a millennium; at age 78, he is also the oldest man elected to the office since 1730. Upon his election, Cardinal Ratzinger chose the regnal name Benedict XVI.
In the main, the post office under Benedict XVI has followed the philatelic precedents set under John Paul II. Artistic and historical themes continue to dominate stamp subjects, and the issuing policy remains conservative — in fact, the average print run of new issues decreased in 2008 and 2009. On December 1, 2008, the Vatican government issued Decree No. LXXX, which orders that all Vatican postal paper issued since 1963 and denominated solely in lire will be invalid as of July 1, 2009, which is three years earlier than required by the Vatican's monetary agreements with Italy and the European Union. This is the only instance of mass demonetization of postage stamps in Vatican history, and it has provoked protests from some collectors and dealers.