Former Pope Benedict XVI died in the Vatican monastery at the age of 95

Former Pope Benedict XVI died in the Vatican monastery at the age of 95

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Pope Francis paid tribute to his predecessor on Saturday after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died in a Vatican monastery at the age of 95.

“We are touched when we remember him as such a noble man, so kind, and we feel such gratitude in our hearts, gratitude to God for giving him to the church and to the world,” Francis said in St. Peter’s Basilica as he led the traditional New Year’s Eve.

“Thanks to him for all the good he did and above all for his testimony of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his life. Only God knows the value of his sacrifices for the good of the church,” Francis added.

Benedictwho was the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to step down rather than serve for life, died on Saturday, according to a Vatican statement.

“It is with sadness that I inform you that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died today at 9:34 a.m. in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican,” said the director of the Holy See’s press office, Matteo Bruni.

According to Bruni, Francis went to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shortly after his death on Saturday morning.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s funeral will be held Thursday in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican at 9:30 a.m. local time, Bruni said. The funeral will be led by Pope Francis.

The former pope’s body will be laid to rest in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican starting Monday for the faithful to say goodbye, Vatican News reported. According to the pope emeritus’ wishes, his funeral will be “simple,” Bruni said.

News of Benedict’s death came days after Pope Francis asked the faithful to pray for himsaying he was “very ill.”

His health had been failing for some time.

Benedict stunned faithful Catholics and religious experts around the world on February 11, 2013, when he announced his plans to step down as pope, citing his “advanced age.”

In his farewell address, the outgoing pope promised to remain “hidden” from the world, but continued to speak out on religious issues in the years since his retirement, adding to tensions within the Catholic Church.

Benedict was a powerful force in the Catholic Church for decades. Born Josef Ratzinger in Germany in 1927, he was the son of a policeman. He was ordained a priest in 1951, made a cardinal in 1977, and later served as chief theological adviser to Pope John Paul II.

One of his most significant steps up came in 1981, when he took over as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that oversees “doctrine of faith and morals throughout the Catholic world,” according to the Vatican.

Ratzinger became known as “Cardinal No” stemming from his efforts to break the liberation theology movement, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and calls for the ordination of women as priests.

He was elected Pope in April 2005 after the death of John Paul II.

He is known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who took steps to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to address the sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed the church in recent years and clouded the Legacy of Benedict.

The former pope, pictured on September 9, 2007, was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis.

In April 2019, Benedict discussed the sexual abuse crisis in a public letter, arguing that it was caused in part by the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the liberalization of the church’s moral teachings.

In January 2020, Benedict was forced to distance himself from a book seen as undermining Francis as he considers whether to allow married men to become priests in certain cases. The book “From the depths of our hearts” argues in favor of the centuries-old tradition of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church. Benedict was initially listed as a co-author, but later clarified that he contributed only a portion of the text.

A year later, Benedict came under fire for his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising between 1977 and 1982, following the publication of a Church-commissioned report into abuses by Catholic clergy there.

The report found that while in office, he was informed of four cases of sexual abuse involving minors – including two that occurred during his tenure – but failed to act. He also revealed that Benedict attended a meeting about an abuser identified as Priest X. After the report was published, Benedict denied allegations that he knew in 1980 that this priest was an abuser.

In a letter released by the Vatican amid the furor, Benedict wrote that he was “in good spirits” as he faced “the last judge of my life” despite his shortcomings. He also issued a general apology to survivors of abuse.

Global leaders paid tribute to the former pope after his death. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England, said he was “grieving” for the former pope.

“Pope Benedict was one of the greatest theologians of his time – committed to the Church’s faith and steadfast in its defense,” Welby said in a statement Saturday.

“In everything, not least in his writing and preaching, he looked to Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God. It was perfectly clear that Christ was the root of his thought and the foundation of his prayer.

“In 2013, Pope Benedict took the courageous and humble step of stepping down from the papacy, the first pope to do so since the fifteenth century. By making this choice freely, he recognized the human frailty that affects us all,” he added.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, said he would remember the former pope with “love and gratitude.”

“Saddened to learn of the passing of His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola tweeted on Saturday.

“Europe mourns him. May he rest in peace.”

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, told Pope Francis on Saturday that he had received the news of Benedict’s death with “sorrow,” according to a message posted on the Moscow Patriarchate’s official website.

“The long life of His Holiness marked an entire era in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, which he led in a difficult historical period associated with many external and internal challenges,” Cyril said of Benedict.

Cyril added that relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church had “developed significantly” during Benedict’s tenure, in an effort to “overcome the sometimes painful legacy of the past”.

“On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church, I extend my condolences to you and the congregation of the Roman Catholic Church,” he continued.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama offered his condolences to members of the Catholic Church following Benedict’s death.

“I pray for our spiritual brother,” he wrote, “and offer my condolences to the members of the Catholic Church.”

“At a time when we see tensions in several parts of the world, we can take a lesson from Pope Benedict’s life and do what we can to contribute to religious harmony and global peace.”

US President Joe Biden said the late pontiff “will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime devoted to the Church, guided by his principles and faith”.

Biden, the second Catholic to serve as president of the United States, reflected on his meeting with Benedict at the Vatican in 2011, saying he remembered “his generosity and welcome and our meaningful conversation.”

“As he noted during his 2008 visit to the White House, ‘the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever if all people are to live in ways worthy of their dignity.'” Let his focus on the ministry of charity has continued to be an inspiration to us all,” Biden added.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute. “Saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Sunak tweeted on Saturday.

“He was a great theologian whose visit to the UK in 2010 was a historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics in our country.

Global leaders paid tribute to the German-born former pope, pictured on September 12, 2006.
The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes the former Pope, pictured on November 30, 2005.

Italy’s new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, expressed her admiration for the former pope. “Benedict XVI was a giant of faith and reason. He put his life at the service of the universal Church and spoke and will continue to speak to the hearts and minds of people with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual depth of his Magisterium,” she tweeted on Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who leads Moscow invasion of Ukrainecalled the former pope “a staunch defender of traditional Christian values.”

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