Rome — Benedict XVI, the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, died peacefully in his bed on Saturday morning in Rome, the Vatican declared.
“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,” wrote Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni in a statement. “Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”
The previous day, Pope Francis requested prayers in particular for Benedict and warned that Benedict is “seriously ill,” following the pope's brief loss of consciousness on Tuesday night.
Benedict was succeeded by Saint John Paul II as the leader of 1.3 billion Catholics. He was Pope from April 19, 2005, until the day of his departure on February 28th, 2013. The German pope stunned the world with his announcement of his resignation as being the only pope in history to do this in over 600 years.
“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 to adequately exercising the Petrine ministry,” he said to the cardinals. He added that he understood the necessity of his ministry to be fulfilled “not only with deeds and words, but no less with prayer and suffering.”
In the nine years following his resignation, Benedict lived in an abbey within the Vatican walls, dedicating himself to prayer and writing, while maintaining an unassuming appearance.
Benedict served as theologian as a professor Archbishop of Munich and head and prefect of the Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and pope and pope-emeritus.
A well-known theologian and a shy person blessed with excellent listening abilities, an expert of delivering sermons on even the most complicated subjects in a way that is easy to understand during his 8 years in the office of Pope Ratzinger, he interacted with thousands of people, made numerous international visits and also wrote numerous Encyclicals to refresh the doctrine of the church on various topics.
He vigorously fought against the clerical sex-abuse problem and demanded changes in church norms regarding priests who were abusive.
In 2008 Pope Benedict made a visit to the United States where he spoke highly of America for being “a land of great faith.”
“Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshiping community,” the pope said. “They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse.”
“Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness – a fact which has contributed to this country's attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs,” he said.
In the spring, Benedict provided a series of reflections about his upcoming death and his thoughts on death.
“Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life,” the Pope Emeritus wrote in February of last year.
“Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer,” he said, “for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete.'”
“In light of the hour of judgment, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me,” he said. “It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death.”
“In this way I am continually being reminded of the things that John says about the start of the Apocalypse. Then he looks at God the Son of Man in all his splendor and falls down at his feet as if dead. But He is able to put his right hand on his and saying to him: “Do not be worried! It's me …'” He concluded.
Matteo Bruni has announced that Benedict's body will be laid in state at Saint Peter's Basilica beginning on the morning of Monday, the 2nd of January, 2023 – the traditional celebration of the Holy Name of Jesus, “for the faithful's farewell.”