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Former Pope Benedict XVI Dies At His Vatican Residence, Aged 95

The Vatican confirmed that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away at the age of 95.

His passing on Saturday came after Pope Francis requested prayers for him, stating that he was “extremely unwell.”

According to the Holy See Press Office, Benedict, the first German pope in a millennium, passed away in the Mater Ecclesiae convent, where he had chosen to live after stepping down in 2013.

The Vatican has been evasive on Benedict’s illness, stating only that his deteriorating health was brought on by his senior age.

Benedict served as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the influential head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, formerly known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for nearly 25 years (CDF).

The former pope served as the church’s conservative standard-bearer, and some extreme traditionalists even refused to recognize Francis as a genuine Pope.

They have criticized Francis for being more accepting of people in the LGBTQ+ community and Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside of the Church, claiming that both of these actions undermine traditional values.

Like John Paul before him, Pope Benedict made it a priority to engage with Jews.

He wrote a letter to Rome’s Jewish community as his first formal act as pope, making him the second pope in history (after John Paul) to enter a synagogue.

Benedict presented a thorough exoneration of the Jewish people for the killing of Christ in his 2011 book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” outlining the biblical and theological reasons why there is no support in Scripture for the claim that the Jewish people as a whole were accountable for Jesus’ death.

Controversies

However, he also faced criticism for a number of PR scandals and a lack of personality while serving as pope.

Most crucially, he received criticism for his lack of decisive action to put an end to Church cover-ups as an increasing number of victims spoke out about their abuse—often suffered as children—at the hands of priests.

Prior to being elected pope, Benedict served as the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition, which gave him final authority to look into allegations of abuse.

He was the first pontiff to express “sad regret” and meet with victims of the scandals that surfaced throughout the world.

He acknowledged, in 2010, that the Church “did not respond swiftly or decisively enough to take the necessary action” in relation to a matter that seriously damaged its reputation.

 

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