Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Dead At 95

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Joe Roberts Contributor
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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away at the age of 95 in Rome Saturday.

“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,” The Holy See Press Office announced, according to Vatican News. “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 pay their respects.”

Pope Francis requested prayers for the former pontiff on Wednesday after revealing he was “very ill.”

“I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is supporting the Church in silence,” Francis told a General Audience at the Vatican. “Remember him – he is very ill – asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end.”

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said Pope Francis will preside over his predecessor’s funeral on 5 January at 9.30 CET in St. Peter’s Square, according to Vatican News.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, was elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005, and became the first pope in 600 years to step down when he resigned on Feb. 11, 2013 citing his age and health, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA). He has lived in the Vatican gardens since his resignation, per the report. (RELATED: New Pope: How Benedict XVI Gave Me My Freedom)

“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,” Ratzinger said upon retiring, according to the Associated Press (AP).

A renowned theologian, Ratzinger participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as an advisor, and later became head of what was formerly known as the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine on the Faith under Pope St. John Paul II, according to CNA.

As pope, Benedict warned about a “dictatorship of relativism” and other ideological threats to religious faith in the modern world, the report continues. He also took action against the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Church by overseeing revisions of canon law and dismissing many from the clerical state.

Born 1927 in Bavaria, Benedict and his family lived for a time under Nazi occupation, during which he was forced to enlist in the Nazi youth movement before eventually leaving in 1945, according to the AP.

He was ordained a priest alongside his brother Georg in 1951, appointed bishop of Munich in 1977, and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope St. Paul VI, the report continues.

A celebrated author, whose works included “Introduction to Christianity,” and lover of music, Benedict was known for his deep faith and learning, according to CNA.

“I’m simply a pilgrim who is starting the last stage of his pilgrimage on Earth,” Benedict said in 2013, CNA reported. “Let’s go ahead together with the Lord for the good of the Church and of the world.”