Former Pope Benedict XVI has been officially confirmed dead at his Vatican residence at the age of 95. The late Pope led the Catholic Church for almost eight years before historically stepping down due to his failing health. The decision made him the first Pope to resign in over 600 years, the last being Gregory XII in 1415.
Tributes have also started pouring out to the late Pope from prominent figures like British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, sent his condolences to Catholics in France and around the world.
Benedict’s Papacy was quite controversial, strewn with child abuse allegations and legal claims against the church.
Read on to find out more.
The Vatican Has Confirmed Pope Benedict’s Death
On December 31st, BBC News confirmed that Former Pope Benedict XVI had passed away in his Vatican home at age 95. The late Pope led the Catholic Church for almost eight years until he stepped down in 2013 due to his failing health and advanced age. With the decision, Benedict became the first Vatican Pope to step down voluntarily since Gregory XII in 1415.
For the last few years of Benedict’s life, he lived at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the Vatican. He received visitors regularly, especially his successor Pope Francis, who’s still the reigning Pope.
The official statement from the Vatican on Benedict’s death read, “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.”
Funeral Plans Will Be Announced Soon
The Vatican has also announced that Pope Emeritus’s body would be displayed in St Peter’s Basilica from January 2nd for “the greeting of the faithful” ceremony. They also confirmed that funeral plans for Benedict would be released over the next hours and days.
As he’s the first pope to resign from the position in over 600 years, the Vatican will likely have to write funeral guidelines from scratch. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has paid his respects to Benedict, calling him “one of the great theologians of the 20th century”.
His statement also referred to the late Pope as a man of God that was “always a humble servant.” It also read, “I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind, and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”
Tributes Pour In To The Late Pope Benedict
Asides from Cardinal Nichols, several other prominent figures have paid their respects to Benedict, such as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He said, “I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. My thoughts are with Catholic people in the UK and around the world today.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also paid tribute to Benedict. His statement read, “My thoughts go out to Catholics in France and around the world, bereaved by the departure of His Holiness Benedict XVI, who worked with soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world.”
Pope Benedict’s Papacy Was Controversial
On Wednesday, December 28th, Pope Francis requested a special prayer for Benedict during his final audience for the year at the Vatican. He informed the audience that Pope Emeritus was very ill and under medical care.
Benedict rose to the Papacy in 2005 at the age of 78, becoming one of the oldest popes to hold the position. For many years of his reign, the Catholic Church faced several controversies, from child abuse allegations against priests to legal claims against the church.
A German investigative report into the Catholic Church dug up decades-long abuse allegations against priests. The report also alleged that Benedict has failed to take serious action on child sex abuse cases and that the abuse continued unchecked under his tenure.
Via BBC News, earlier this year, former Pope Benedict acknowledged that there were errors made in handling several abuse cases during his time as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. In a statement released by the Vatican, he also asked for forgiveness for any “grievous fault” but denied any personal wrongdoing.