Former Pope Benedict XVI dead at age 95

It was announced by the Vatican on Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI, the former head of the Catholic Church, had passed away at the age of 95, Breitbart reported.

Benedict, the 246th pope since the church’s inception, had reportedly been in declining health recently and was said to be “seriously ill” in recent days.

Papal funeral plans

“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 AM in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a statement. “As of Monday morning, 2 January 2023, the body of the Pope Emeritus will be in Saint Peter’s Basilica so the faithful can pay their respects.”

According to Bruni, Pope Francis will preside over a funeral mass for his predecessor on Jan. 5 in St. Peter’s Square, though it is unclear if that service will be open to the public.

Prior to that, the body of Benedict will first rest at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican, where he has lived since his retirement, until Jan. 2, when he will be transported to St. Peter’s Basilica to lie in state and for the faithful to pay their respects.

Following the funeral mass in St. Peter’s Square, the former pope’s body will then be moved back to the Basilica and be finally laid to rest in the Vatican’s subterranean grotto.

First pope to retire in more than 600 years

The Associated Press reported that former Pope Benedict XVI, previously known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was born in Germany in 1927, was forcibly conscripted against his will by the Nazis in 1941 before deserting the army in 1945, and thereafter devoted himself to theology as he climbed the ranks of the Catholic Church.

He was elected as the 265th leader of the Catholic Church in 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II. Unlike so many of his predecessors, though, Benedict decided that he didn’t want to die as pope, so he surprisingly became the first pope in more than 600 years to abdicate his title and retire — a decision he announced in 2013.

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to adequately exercising” his duties as head of the church, he told cardinals at the Vatican at that time.

Since that time, Benedict had quietly lived out the remainder of his life in prayer and occasional writings at the monastery on Vatican grounds.

“Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life,” Benedict wrote in February of his declining health and impending death, according to Breitbart. “Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate.”

Both good and bad during Benedict’s reign

The AP noted that Benedict’s tenure as pope was marked by his conservative traditionalism and efforts to reawaken spirituality in an increasingly secular world.

It was also marked by a few scandals as well, most notably that of sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests along with the leak to the media of private Vatican documents by his former personal butler, Paolo Gabriele, who later received a papal pardon for his actions.

Latest News