Former Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95
He was the first head of the Catholic Church since 1415 to have resigned.
Former Pope Benedict XVI died at his residence in Vatican City on Saturday, nearly a decade after he resigned as the head of the Catholic Church. He was 95 years old.
The Vatican said that he died at 9.34 am local time (2.04 pm Indian Standard Time). “Further information will be provided as soon as possible,” the Vatican said. “As of Monday morning, 2 January 2023, the body of the Pope Emeritus will be in Saint Peter’s Basilica so the faithful can bid farewell.”
Plans for the funeral will be announced in the next few hours, according to an official statement.
On December 28, the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, had said that his predecessor was “very ill” and urged people to pray for him.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, described Benedict as “one of the great theologians of the 20th century”, the BBC reported.
“He was through and through a gentleman, through and through a scholar, through and through a pastor, through and through a man of God – close to the lord and always his humble servant,” Nochols said.
However, Benedict’s tenure as the pope was marked by the eruption of the sexual abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church in 2010. Documents at that time had shown that the Vatican knew about the problem but did not act for decades.
Benedict had courted controversy in 2009 ahead of a tour to Africa, when he said that the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, could not be dealt with by distributing condoms. “On the contrary, it increases the problem,” he had said, according to the Associated Press.
However, his tenure was also notable for his efforts to reach out to the Jewish community. In his 2011 book, Jesus of Nazareth, the former pope said that there was no basis in Christian scripture to hold Jewish people as a whole responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.
In 2013, Benedict became the first head of the Church to resign from the post since Gregory XII in 1415. He had said that due to his advanced age, he could no longer cope with the demands of the post.
The former pope spent his last years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican, according to the BBC.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Benedict’s death.