Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passes away

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ROME: The 95-year-old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away on Saturday at 9:34 AM in his residence at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.

The Holy See Press Office announced that he died at 9:34 AM on Saturday morning in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, which the 95-year-old Pope Emeritus had chosen as his residence after resigning from the Petrine ministry in 2013.

“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.”

It may be recalled that already for several days, the health conditions of the Pope Emeritus had worsened due to advancing age, as the Press Office had reported in its updates of the evolving situation.

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 28 December.

The Pope had invited people to pray for the Pope Emeritus, who was “very ill”, so that the Lord might console him and support him “in this witness of love for the Church until the end.”

Following this invitation, prayer initiatives sprung up and multiplied on all continents, along with an outpouring of messages of solidarity and closeness from secular leaders.

On Feb. 11, 2013, the 85-year-old Benedict shocked the world with a Latin-language 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 to the exercise of his office.

Widely recognized as one of the Catholic Church’s top theologians, Benedict’s pontificate was marked by a profound understanding of the challenges to the Church in the face of growing ideological aggression, not least from an increasingly secular Western mindset, both within and outside the Church. He famously warned about the “dictatorship of relativism” in a homily just before the conclave in 2005 that elected him pope.

Born in a small village in Bavaria called Marktl am Inn on April 16, 1927, the future pope grew up in a region of Germany long known as a stronghold of Marian devotion and piety. He was the third and youngest child of Joseph and Maria Ratzinger.

His youth in the nearby Bavarian town of Traunstein was overshadowed by the rise of the Nazi party, a regime he called “sinister” and that “banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good.”

After a brief forced conscription of two months into the German army at the end of the Second World War, Ratzinger and his older brother, Georg, resumed their studies for the priesthood, first in Freising and then in Munich.

Ordained a priest 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. His reputation as an intellectual prompted an invitation to serve as an expert, or peritus, at the Second Vatican Council from Cardinal Joseph Frings, the archbishop of Cologne. He rapidly distinguished himself as an eminent theologian.

 

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