Former Pope Benedict XVI passed away at residence today December 31, at age 95, almost a decade after he resigned because of ailing health.
Benedict’s death followed an appeal by Pope Francis to pray for his predecessor, with the Vatican announcing the former pontiff’s health had worsened due to advanced age.
Benedict led the Catholic Church for less than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. He spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican.
The former Pope had become increasingly frail in recent years after dedicating his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.
The Vatican disclosed in a statement that, “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.”
The Vatican further noted that the body of the Pope Emeritus will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from 2 January for: ‘the greeting of the faithful.’ Plans for Pope Benedict’s funeral will be announced in the next few hours, the vatican also said.
Benedict’s Shocking Announcement In 2013
For hundreds of years before Benedict became the Holy Father, popes had headed the Catholic Church until their deaths.
Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, he succeeded Pope John Paul II in 2005 and became the first pope in over six centuries to step down from the role.
On 11th February 2013, Benedict’s surprise announcement to stand aside shocked the Catholic world, and forced the church to grapple with an event it had not seen in centuries. In his farewell address, the outgoing pope promised to stay “hidden” from the world, but he continued to speak out on religious matters in the years following his retirement, contributing to tensions within the Catholic Church.
The former Pope disclosed that he wanted to resign as he no longer had the physical and mental strength to run the church. He rarely made public appearances in his retirement, dedicating the last years of his life to prayer and meditation as he lived in a former convent in the Vatican.
Benedict’s time as pope included the fallout from child sex-abuse scandals involving clergy that emerged during John Paul II’s papacy. His response included expelling priests and both apologizing to and meeting with victims.