Saturday, December 31, 2022 11:10 am
Former Pope Benedict XVI has died at his Vatican residence, aged 95, almost a decade after he stood down because of ailing health, the BBC has reported.
He led the Catholic Church for less than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
According to the report, Benedict spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican.
His successor Pope Francis said he had visited him there frequently.
The Vatican said in a statement: “With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican.
“Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”
Although the former pontiff had been ill for some time, the Holy See said there had been an aggravation in his condition because of advancing age.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed to his final audience of the year at the Vatican to “pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict”, whom he said was very ill.
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, Benedict was 78 when in 2005 he became one of the oldest popes ever elected.
For much of his papacy, the Catholic Church faced allegations, legal claims and official reports into decades of child abuse by priests.
Earlier this year the former Pope acknowledged that errors had been made in the handling of abuse cases while he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.
Pope Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, German on16 April 1927. He was a prelate of the Catholic Church who served as the head of the Church and the sovereign of the Vatican City State from 19 April 2005 until his resignation on 28 February 2013. Benedict’s election as pope, according to a teport, “Benedict XVI will be ‘Pope emeritus'”, pub;ished in The Vatican Today, 1 March 2013, occurred in the 2005 papal conclave that followed the death of Pope John Paul II. Benedict chose to be known by the title “pope emeritus” upon his resignation.
Ordained as a priest in 1951 in his native Bavaria, Ratzinger embarked on an academic career and established himself as a highly regarded theologian by the late 1950s. He was appointed a full professor in 1958 at the age of 31. After a long career as a professor of theology at several German universities, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals.
Walsh, Mary Ann (2005), in their publication, From Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI: An Inside Look at the End of an Era, the Beginning of a New One, and the Future of the Church, wrote that prior to becoming pope, he was “a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century”. He had an influence “second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions” as one of John Paul II’s closest confidants. He lived in Rome from 1981 until his death in 2022.
His prolific writings generally defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. He was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many Western countries. He views relativism’s denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God’s redemptive love. This is recorded by Johnston I and Jerry Earl (18 February 2006) in “Benedict’s encyclical offers hope for world”, published in Deseret News. Benedict also revived a number of traditions, including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position. He strengthened the relationship between the Catholic Church and art, promoted the use of Latin, and reintroduced traditional papal vestments, for which reason he was called “the pope of aesthetics”. He had been described as “the main intellectual force in the Church” since the mid-1980s.
On 11 February 2013, Benedict unexpectedly announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a “lack of strength of mind and body” due to his advanced age. His resignation took effect on 28 February 2013. He was the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Celestine V in 1294. As pope emeritus, Benedict retained the style of His Holiness and dressed in the papal colour of white. He was succeeded by Francis on 13 March 2013, and he moved into the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City for his retirement on 2 May 2013. The retired Benedict XVI later made occasional public appearances alongside Francis.
In addition to his native German language, Benedict had some level of proficiency in French, Italian, English, and Spanish. He also knew Portuguese, Latin, Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Greek. He was a member of several social-science academies, such as the French Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. He played the piano and had a preference for Mozart and Bach.