Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died, the Holy See Press Office has announced to millions of Catholics across the world.
“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. As of Monday morning, 2 January 2023, the body of the Pope Emeritus will be in Saint Peter’s Basilica so the faithful can bid farewell.”
Days ago, the health conditions of Pope Emeritus had worsened due to advanced age.
Pope Francis himself publicly shared the news about his predecessor’s worsening health at the end of the last General Audience of the year, on December 28.
The Pope invited people to pray for Pope Emeritus, who was very ill.
Since then, prayer campaigns proliferated and spread across every continent, and sentiments of unity and closeness from secular leaders abounded.
Born Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, he was elected to the papacy in April 2005, taking the name Benedict XVI. He succeeded St. John Paul II as pope.
Before being elected, Ratzinger had served the Catholic Church as a theologian, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, cardinal, and one of the closest collaborators of St. John Paul II.
In 2013, the 85-year-old shocked the world with the announcement of his retirement, becoming the first pope in 600 years to do so. He cited his advanced age and his lack of strength as unsuitable for the exercise of his office.
According to numerous reports, Benedict, who is regarded as one of the top theologians in the Catholic Church, had a profound understanding of the difficulties the Church faced in the face of growing ideological aggression, not least from a more and more secular Western mindset, both inside and outside the Church. In a homily delivered immediately before the conclave that elected him pope in 2005, he notably issued a warning against the “dictatorship of relativism.”
The future pope was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, a small village in Bavaria. He was raised in a part of Germany. He was Joseph and Maria Ratzinger’s third and youngest child.
Records show that the emergence of the Nazi party overshadowed his youth in the neighboring Bavarian town of Traunstein. Ratzinger and his older brother, Georg, began their studies for the priesthood in Freising and Munich after a brief two-month forced conscription for the German army at the end of World War II.
He was ordained a priest along with his brother on June 29, 1951. Ratzinger finished his doctoral studies in theology and became a university teacher and vice president at the prestigious University of Regensburg in Bavaria.
He received an offer to participate in the Second Vatican Council as an expert because of his reputation as an intellectual from Cardinal Joseph Frings, the Archbishop of Cologne. He quickly made a name for himself as a leading theologian.
He was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI in 1977, and later that year, he received the red hat of a cardinal.
Four years later, Ratzinger was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the division of the Vatican tasked with advancing and defending the doctrines of the Catholic faith, by Pope John Paul II only four years later, in 1981. He served in that capacity until John Paul II’s passing in 2005.
The pope emeritus lived in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, a modest monastery erected in 1994 inside the Vatican City walls, after his contentious retirement in 2013, committing himself to a life of prayer and penance.