Former Pope Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95

The Vatican announced on Saturday morning the death of the retired German Pope Benedict XVI, whose abdication surprised the whole world in 2013, at the age of 95. Since his resignation, Benedict has lived in a former monastery in the Vatican Gardens with his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Janswein, a few assistants and other medical staff.

Publication of the media manager in Vatican Matteo Bruni issued a statement announcing the death of the resigned German pope Benedict XVI.

“I regret to announce that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away today at 9:34 a.m. in a monastery in the Vatican. More information will be released as soon as possible,” Bruni said in a statement.

Bruni added: “According to the wish of the pope emeritus, the funeral will be held in a simple way,” and the mass will be “solemn and solemn.”

The death of Pope Benedict, who has acted as a standard-bearer for Catholic conservatives who yearn for a more traditional church, ends an unusual period in which two men in white have lived in the Vatican.

The Vatican announced that the body of the late Pope will be buried in Saint Peter’s Basilica from Monday, and that his funeral will take place on Thursday morning, January 5. Pope Francis will preside over the ceremony, which will take place in the large square in front of the church.

This is the same square where Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the name given to Pope Benedict, presided over the funeral service of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 2005.

The Vatican has a very elaborate rite of passage for the death of a pope during his term of office, but there are no known rites associated with the previous pope, one of the many complications raised by Benedict’s sudden resignation in 2013.

The Vatican said the official government delegations to the funeral would be limited to those from Germany and Italy. Other dignitaries may attend in person.

Bells rang in Rome as word of his death spread on an unusually warm winter’s day, following a rapid decline in his health over Christmas. Many went to St. Peter’s Basilica to pray after hearing the news.

Pope Benedict XVI’s health has been fragile for years. Worsened in recent days, the Vatican announced Friday that his situation was “stable” and that he participated in Mass from his room on Thursday.

Pope Benedict moved from the papal palace to a former monastery in the Vatican Gardens when he retired.

Pope Francis announced on Wednesday that his predecessor is “seriously ill” and that he is praying for him.

A Vatican source told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday that the pontiff’s health “deteriorated about three days ago. His vital functions are disappearing, including his heart.”

Tributes to the former pope

Leaders rushed to send condolences over the death of Benedict, who was the first German pope in 1,000 years.

“We are saddened by the death of the Bavarian pope,” said Markus Soeder, prime minister of Benedict’s home state of Bavaria.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opined on Saturday that the world was losing a “prominent figure” in the Catholic Church with the death of Pope Benedict XVI.

“As Pope of ‘Germany’, Benedict XVI was for many, and not only in this country, a unique head of the Church,” Scholz said on his Twitter account, describing him as a “debating figure” and “informative theologian ” described.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “With Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church, Germany and the world are losing one of the most militant and important religious thinkers of our time,” noting that his resignation showed “that the Pope is also the burdens of old age.”

US President Joe Biden, the second Catholic to serve as president of the United States, said in a statement that the late pope “will be remembered as an outstanding theologian, with a lifelong commitment to the Church, guided by its principles and faith.”

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts are with Catholics in France and around the world who are saddened by the passing of His Holiness Benedict XVI, who worked with spirit and intelligence for a more fraternal world .”

The French Bishops’ Conference paid tribute to the memory of the former pope, expressing “sorrow” at his death and reminding him that he was a “great cleric” and a supreme pontiff who “wanted to serve the unity of the Church .”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Saturday that former Pope Benedict XVI was a “giant of faith and logic” and “one of the greats that history will not forget.”

“I told Pope Francis my participation and the government’s participation in his pain and the pain of the entire church community,” she added in a statement.

“One of the greatest theologians of his time”

Britain’s King Charles said he remembered his meeting with Benedict fondly, noting his “continuous efforts to promote peace and harmony for all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the Anglican World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church.”

The British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, expressed his “sadness” on Saturday over the death of the “great theologian” former Pope Benedict XVI.

“I was saddened to hear of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Sunak wrote on Twitter, adding, “He was a great theologian whose visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 was a historic moment for Catholics and non- Catholics across our country were. .” .

For his part, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, praised the memory of the emeritus pope on Saturday, describing him as “one of the greatest theologians of his time.”

Michael Higgins, Irish Prime Minister, praised his “continuous efforts (…) to spread peace and goodwill throughout the world, with a constant concern for peace in Northern Ireland.”

His “strong calls for solidarity”

The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, paid tribute to the memory of the late pope, calling him “a great theologian who dedicated himself to serving others, to justice and to peace.”

“My deepest condolences to the Catholic Church on the death of His Holiness Benedict XVI,” he wrote on Twitter.

For her part, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recalled that the late pope “sent a strong signal before his resignation,” saying: “He saw himself first as a servant of God and his Church. And when his physical ability declined, he continued to serve through his prayers.”

“His strong calls for solidarity with marginalized people wherever they are and his calls to close the widening gap between rich and poor are more important than ever,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.

For his part, Polish Prime Minister Matusz Morawiecki bid farewell to the Pope, calling him “one of the greatest theologians of our time”. “He demonstrated throughout his life the spiritual and intellectual depth of Christianity and left a great legacy,” he said. For his part, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that the late pope was “a close aide of Saint Pope John Paul II.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised him as a “brilliant theologian, propagator of universal values”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to the emeritus pope on Saturday, saying he “was a defender of traditional Christian values”.

“Benedict XVI was an outstanding religious figure, an outstanding statesman and a confident defender of traditional Christian values,” he wrote in a condolence telegram addressed to Pope Francis and published by the Kremlin.

Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill also paid tribute to the pontiff emeritus, saying he was a defender of “traditional values”.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, a devout Catholic, expressed his “sadness” to receive the news of the death of the Pope Emeritus. “Throughout the eight years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has remained a symbol of stability and defense of the values ​​of the Catholic Church: charity, solidarity, support for the poor and the most vulnerable, and the importance of tolerance and reconciliation,” he said in a message published on the presidency’s official website.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also expressed his condolences on the death of Pope Benedict. In a telegram of condolence he said: “We share with you the sorrow of his passing, to remember our reception of His Holiness in the city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, on the day when he was a dear guest in the Holy Land was. , in May 2009, with a message of love and peace to the world, and during his visit he met Palestinian Islamic and Christian personalities in The Noble Sanctuary … and his solidarity and support for the freedom and independence of our people in their Palestinian state.”

“He was a great spiritual leader, with his whole heart committed to the historic reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish world,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa praised the “spiritual leadership that Pope Benedict XVI has given to his Church and to humanity at large”.

Conservative approach fStrong leadership and scandals

For nearly 25 years, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the powerful head of the Vatican’s Office of Doctrine, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was considered one of the greatest theologians in the church.

While playing this role, he crushed opposition from those affiliated with the liberation theology movement, saying they were confusing Marxist thought with Christianity.

Benedict was elected on April 19, 2005 to succeed Pope John Paul II, who was extremely popular and held office for 27 years.

Child sexual abuse scandals have haunted most of his papacy, but he is credited with starting the process of disciplining or escaping the abusers after a more lax attitude during the reign of his predecessor.

But Benedict admitted he had been weak in administration, saying he had shown a “lack of decisiveness in judgment and decision-making” during his eight-year papacy, which had been marred by missteps, particularly regarding Islam and Judaism.

The year before his resignation was dominated by a scandal known as the Vatican Leaks, as private papal documents surfaced in the media revealing a dysfunctional Vatican torn by internal strife, corruption and disunity.

Two Popes and one Catholic Church

Pope Benedict announced his resignation in Latin during a routine meeting of cardinals. Many had no idea what he was saying, and it took time for the word to spread. He also said that due to his old age he was no longer strong enough to lead the church.

After his resignation, he moved to a former monastery on the territory of the Vatican and chose the title “Pope Emeritus”.

Although he says he will “remain hidden from the world” during his retirement, he has sometimes caused controversy and sown confusion through his writings and interviews.

Although his public appearances were rare, Catholic conservatives saw the former pope as their standard-bearer, and some extremist fundamentalists even refused to recognize Pope Francis as the legitimate pope.

They criticized Francis for his more welcoming approach to LGBT people and Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the Church, saying they undermined traditional values.

Despite the problems that arose from the presence of two men in white in the Vatican, Francis developed an intimate relationship with the man, and he said it was like having a grandfather in the house.

“Now we will only have one pope,” said French tourist Emilie Gellar. “I must say that Pope Ratzinger was a charismatic and humble pope, but above all he was a great theologian.”

FRANCE 24/AFP/Reuters

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