Pope Benedict XVI died at 95

Perhaps the most incendiary issue Benedict faced on becoming pope was the continued fallout of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, as well as accusations of a cover-up effort by the administration of the Church.

When Benedict XVI became pope in 2005, the Catholic Church was in the midst of a very public reckoning with his history of sexual abuse – a crisis of which he was very well informed. In 2001, John Paul II authorized the CDF to centralize all investigations into allegations of abuse, removing that power from local dioceses after it became clear they often failed to take action against predatory priests. As head of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger worked to establish new procedures for reporting and punishing clergy accused of sexual abuse.

As Pope, Benedict XVI repeatedly spoke out against the Church’s legacy of child sexual abuse, apologized to victims and defrocked hundreds of priests who had been convicted . However, for many his actions failed, in part because he did not publicize the Vatican’s investigations into the abuse charges – a lack of transparency that has allowed dioceses to keep these accusations a secret from parishioners and law enforcement authorities.

“In all the history of the Church, no one knew more but did no less to protect children than Benedict,” said the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). in a statement in 2013, in response to the pope emeritus’ public assertion that he did. not engage in a “cover-up” of clerical abuse. “As head of the CDF, thousands of cases of predatory priests flowed through his office. Did he choose to warn the families or call the police about just one of these dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover.

Rumors of corruption and secret cabals in the Holy See also plagued Benedict’s tenure as pope, culminating in the 2012 “Vatileaks” scandal.

On February 10, 2013, Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his resignation from the papacy. “After examining my conscience several times before God, I have come to the certainty that my strength, due to advanced age, is no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said in his statement.

His decision to retire was later dramatized in the 2019 film The two popesin which Benedict was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.

As pope emeritus, Benedict made a conscious effort to stay out of the public eye. He apparently didn’t like being known by such a lofty title after his resignation and asked others to simply call him “Father Benedict”. He has, however, made public appearances at events of theological significance, such as the canonization mass of Popes John XIII and John Paul II on April 27, 2014.

On September 4, 2020, at the age of 93 years, four months and 19 days, Benedict became the longest living pope in history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *