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Pope Emeritus Benedict Passes Away at 95

Pope Emeritus Benedict has gone to his heavenly reward, passing away at age 95. 

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Pope Emeritus Benedict has passed away. We pray for this great shepherd of the Church.

Pope Emeritus Benedict has passed away. We pray for this great shepherd of the Church.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
1/2/2023 (1 month ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Pope Emeritus Benedict, Benedict XVI, pope, Vatican, obituary, death, passing

Vatican spokesman, Mario Bruni announced on Saturday morning: "With sorrow I inform you that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesia Monastery." 

He will lay on public display in St. Peter's Basilica, starting on Monday for the faithful to visit and pay their respects. Bruni told reporters that it was Benedict's request that his funeral be solemn and simple. 

Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, the man who would become Pope Benedict experienced world war and cultural revolution during his lifetime. Known as a relatively conservative figure, his philosophical and theological mind was possibly one of the greatest in Church history, and he will likely occupy a place among the great theologians in the centuries ahead. 

As a child, Ratzinger grew up in Germany during World War II. Although he was still a child, he was forcibly drafted into the Luftwaffe and was posted to an anti-aircraft battery. Rather than serve the Nazis, he deserted this post, a crime which at the time would have resulted in summary execution. 

Following the war, the young Ratzinger was able to pursue his religious studies, free of persecution. He studied theology and philosophy, and was heavily inspired by his intellectual relations with Romano Guardini, who was also a great Italian-German priest, author, and academic. 

Ratzinger became proficient in several languages including French, Italian, English, Portuguese, Latin, and Biblical Greek and Latin. He was also an accomplished pianist. 

While still in his twenties, Ratzinger became a professor and was highly regarded as a young theologian. Pope Paul VI elevated him to become Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and appointed him as a cardinal in 1977. In 1981, he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a critical role he would occupy under Pope John Paul II. 

Following the passing of St. Pope John Paul II, Ratzinger was elected and became Pope Benedict XVI. 

During his pontificate, Benedict was known for his fondness for traditional Catholic practices, including the use of Latin and use of traditional papal vestments. 

He resigned from the papacy on February 28, 2013, citing poor health. He retired to a monastery within the Vatican, where he lived for the next decade, spending time in quiet prayer and contemplation. Pope Benedict was the first pope to resign from the papacy in nearly 600 years. 

On September 4, 2020, Pope Emeritus Benedict became the longest-lived person to have ever been a pope, at age 93. His lifespan surpassed that of Pope Leo XIII, who died in 1903. He was also the last surviving cardinal created by Pope Paul VI. 

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On December 28, 2022, Pope Francis announced that Benedict was "very sick," and asked the world to pray for him, crediting him as one who "sustains the Church in his silence." This was not the first occasion where the world believed the passing of the Pope Emeritus was imminent. In 2020, the world prayed for him as he struggled with a conditions reported as "painful, but not serious." Due to his advanced age, any illness which is publicized had become a matter of public concern. 

His passing was subsequently announced. 

We ask the world to pray for the soul of this great pontiff and shepherd of the Church.

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