Pope Benedict XVI dies in Vatican at 95

ROME — Benedict XVI, 265e Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, died peacefully in his bed on Saturday morning, the Vatican announced.

“With sadness, I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, died today at 9:34 a.m. at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni wrote in a statement. “Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”

On Wednesday, Pope Francis called for special prayers for Benedict, warning that the former pontiff was “gravely ill”, following the former pope’s temporary loss of consciousness on Tuesday evening.

Benedict succeeded Saint John Paul II as head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, reigning from April 19, 2005 until his resignation on February 28, 2013. The German Pope shocked the world when he announced his intention to step down, the first pope to do so in some 600 years.

“After examining my conscience several times before God, I have come to the certainty that my strength, due to advanced age, is no longer suitable for the adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he told the cardinals. , adding that he was aware that his ministry must be carried out “not only by deeds and words, but not less by prayer and suffering”.

For the past nine years since his resignation, Benedict has lived in a monastery inside the Vatican walls, devoting himself to prayer and occasional writing, keeping a low profile.

Born Joseph Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Benedict has been theologian, professor, archbishop of Munich, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, pope and pope emeritus.

A renowned theologian, a shy man with a great capacity for listening, a master at preaching even the most complex subjects in a simple way, during his almost eight years as pope, Ratzinger met millions of people, made dozens of international trips and wrote various encyclical letters to renew the doctrine of the Church on various subjects.

He fought vigorously against the crisis of clerical sexual abuse, forcing a change of direction in the standards of the Church in the face of abusive priests.

In 2008, Pope Benedict visited the United States, where he hailed America as “a land of great faith”.

“Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they are proud to belong to a community of worship,” he said at the time. “They trust in God, and they don’t hesitate to bring moral arguments grounded in biblical faith into their public discourse.”

“Respect for freedom of religion is deeply rooted in the American conscience – a fact that has helped to draw this country to generations of immigrants seeking a home where they can freely worship in accordance to their beliefs,” he added.

Earlier this year, Benedict offered several spiritual reflections on his upcoming death and his attitude towards death.

“Soon I will find myself before the final judge of my life,” wrote the pope emeritus last February.

“Even though, looking back on my long life, I may have great reason to be afraid and tremble, I am nevertheless in good spirits,” he continued, “because I have firm confidence that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and the brother who himself has already suffered from my faults, and who is therefore also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete’.

“In the light of the hour of judgment, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me,” he continued. “He grants me acquaintance, and even friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus enables me to pass confidently through the dark door of death.”

“In this regard, I constantly remember what John tells us at the beginning of the Apocalypse: he sees the Son of Man in all his greatness and falls at his feet as dead. However, he, placing his right hand on him, said to him: “Do not be afraid! It’s me…” he concluded.

Matteo Bruni announced that the body of Benedict XVI will be exposed in Saint Peter’s Basilica from the morning of Monday, January 2, 2023, the traditional liturgical feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, “for the farewell of the faithful”.

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