Former Pope Benedict XVI is said to have died at the age of 95, over a decade after resigning as the head of the Catholic Church owing to “advanced age” and failing health. The Vatican issued a formal statement announcing his death:
“With regret, I notify you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, died away today at 9:34 at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. More information will be made available as soon as feasible.”
The Vatican also said that Pope Benedict’s remains would be deposited in St. Peter’s Basilica for “the welcoming of the faithful” beginning January 2, 2023. The Supreme Pontiff allegedly spent his last years in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae convent, and his successor, Pope Francis, made many visits. Prior to Benedict’s death, Pope Francis revealed that his predecessor is “extremely unwell” and requested prayers during the public audience on Wednesday at the Vatican:
“I want to ask you all for a particular prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict who maintains the Church in his quiet. He is very ill. We pray that the Lord soothe and maintain him in his testimony of love for the Church to the end.”
“Do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.”
Thank you, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, for pointing us to Christ. May the angels lead you to paradise. https://t.co/EfcFhOaiSU
— Abp. José H. Gomez (@ArchbishopGomez) December 31, 2022
Meanwhile, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni stated that Pope Benedict’s health had “deteriorated” “due to the passage of time.” According to Reuters, one of Benedict’s last images was shot on December 1 when he met the winners of a theological award named after him. During the ceremony, he allegedly stayed sitting and seemed weak. According to the newspaper, individuals who saw Benedict in his dying days reported his intellect was brilliant even if his body was fragile. Pope Benedict presided over the Catholic Church for almost eight years until stepping down in 2013. He was the first Pope since Gregory XII in 1415 to resign.
Pope Benedict’s resignation
Before being elected Pope on April 19, 2005, Benedict XVI was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the-then Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He replaced the well-liked Pope John Paul II as the first German pope in 1000 years. Multiple issues marred his rule, notably the 2012 “Vatileaks,” abuse claims against several priests, and Benedict’s apparent lack of action on the subject.
Despite the controversies, Pope Benedict established himself as the Catholic Church’s forceful voice and served as Pope for eight years. However, he shocked the Catholic Church by resigning on February 11, 2013, at the age of 85. At the time, the Supreme Pontiff claimed “old age” as the cause for his retirement, claiming that he no longer had the stamina to lead the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics:
“I’ve got to admit my inability to fulfill the mission given to me.”
Benedict was named Pope Emeritus and pledged to stay “hidden from the public” while focusing on private prayer. Following his retirement, he is said to have spent his time reading, playing the piano, writing letters and essays, and entertaining people at his monastery. At the time of his resignation, Pope Benedict’s papal communications secretary, Father Federico Lombardi, stated the church needed a leader with greater physical and spiritual vitality to face the challenges:
“The church needs someone with more physical and spiritual vitality to solve the issues and challenges of administering the church in this ever-changing contemporary world.”
Benedict became the first Pope in 600 years to resign, after Gregory XII’s resignation in 1415. On February 28, 2013, he officially stepped down as the head of the Catholic Church.