Former Pope Benedict has died
Former Pope Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95, the Vatican has announced.
He passed away at 9.34am on Saturday in his residence at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.
The Vatican said his body will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from January 2 for “the greeting of the faithful”.
Director of the Holy See press office Matteo Bruni said: “With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican.
“Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said Benedict was “one of the great theologians of the 20th century”.
He said: “I remember with particular affection the remarkable papal visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”
The health of Pope Benedict had worsened due to his age, with doctors constantly monitoring his condition.
On Thursday, Bruni said that the former pope’s condition was “serious”.
Pope Francis, Benedict’s successor, told a general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday he was “very sick” and added: “We ask the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church to the very end.”
Francis reportedly went to visit Benedict after his general audience.
Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, waves from a balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican after being elected by the conclave of cardinals April 19, 2005 in Vatican City.
On Wednesday morning, the Vatican also revealed that Benedict’s condition had rapidly “worsened due to age” although he was receiving constant medical care and his condition was “under control” at the time.
Benedict resigned from his role as the head of the Catholic church in 2013 in an almost unprecedented move, explaining “advanced age” had prompted his decision.
It was the first time any pope had resigned, rather than remain active in the role until death, since 1415.
He was known as pope emeritus and continued living in the Vatican, dedicating his life to prayer and meditation while still wearing the white cassock outfit associated with the pope.
He also kept his papal name rather than reverting back to his birth moniker, Joseph Ratzinger.
Back in 2018, the former pope also told his followers, ”in the slow waning of my physical forces, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage toward home”, via a public letter published in Italian outlet Corriere della Sera.
The Vatican spoke out about Benedict’s health in 2020, revealing he was suffering from a “painful but not serious condition” amid media speculation about his health.
British Leaders Pay Tribute To Pope Benedict
Prime minister Rishi Sunak: “He was a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: “Pope Benedict was one of the greatest theologians of his age – committed to the faith of the church and stalwart in its defence.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer: “His state visit in 2010 was a historic and joyous moment for Catholics in Britain. May he rest in peace.”
During his papacy the Catholic Church faced allegations, legal claims and reports into decades of child abuse by priests.
Earlier this year the former Pope acknowledged that errors had been made in the handling of abuse cases while he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.
Pope Francis and his predecessor, former Pope Benedict