Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down as head of the Catholic Church, died on Saturday.
Benedict, who was previously known as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, was 95. His death follows reports this week that his health had been failing.
A statement from Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Saturday morning: “With pain, I inform that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died today at 9:34 a.m. at the Mater Ecclesia monastery in the Vatican.”
The Vatican also announced that Pope Francis will celebrate Benedict’s funeral mass on Thursday in St. Peter’s Square and that Benedict’s remains will be on public display in St. Peter’s Basilica from Monday for the faithful to pay their respects. Benedict XVI’s request was that his funeral be celebrated solemnly but with “simplicity”, Bruni said.
Benedict received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick on Wednesday after his daily Mass, Bruni said.
How long was Pope Benedict Pope?
The church elected Benedict to the papacy in 2005, and Benedict served until 2013. He succeeded Pope John Paul II and was the 265th person to assume the role.
He became a priest in 1951 in Germany, and he has held several important leadership positions in the church, including dean of the College of Cardinals, a governing body within the Catholic Church which, among other things, is responsible for the election of the pope.
Why did Pope Benedict resign?
At the time, he said he was giving up the role due to his failing health.
“Strength of spirit and strength of body are necessary, strengths which in recent months have deteriorated in me to the point that I have had to recognize my inability to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me”, a- he declared.
Benoît was 85 at the time.
Where is Benoît today?
Benedict lived in the Vatican. He continued to wear a white cassock, although he stopped wearing the signature red shoes. He instead adopted a pair of brown shoes he received on a trip to Mexico in 2012. He also renounced the papal ring.
Why was Pope Benedict XVI famous?
Benedict was a theologian and was generally known for his traditional interpretation of what Catholicism should be. It allowed for greater use of a traditional form of Mass conducted in Latin, a move hailed by conservatives and criticized by others as regressive.
He also introduced a new form of the English Mass in 2011 which again delighted traditionalists, but critics called it boring because it came closer to the Latin original.
For example, when the priests said “May the Lord be with you”, the parishioners had replied: “And also with you”. In the new version, they were instead expected to say in response “And with your spirit”, which puzzled many current and former Catholics. (It’s even inspired comic skewers.)
In 2012, Benedict XVI became the first pope to use Twitter. Within hours of the account’s announcement, 200,000 people had followed the account. He had almost 3 million followers a few weeks later.
How will Benedict be remembered as pope?
Benedict’s decision to step down was shocking to many Catholics and church watchers. Traditionally, the Pope serves in the role until his death, and few have voluntarily relinquished the role.
Beyond his decision to step down, Benedict has been widely criticized for the church’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases in Germany when he was Archbishop of Munich. He had asked forgiveness for “serious misconduct” related to the cases, but had not admitted to doing anything wrong. He was also criticized for not taking more aggressive action as pope to punish cardinals and bishops who oversaw sexual abuse in the church.
Benedict was known for speaking out against same-sex marriage, saying it posed a threat to the future of humanity.
Benedict was also criticized for joining the Hitler Youth at age 14 in 1941, although the church and others noted he was legally required to do so. He was then drafted into the German army at age 16, but he deserted in 1945 to join the seminary, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Contact Chris Quintana at (202) 308-9021 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CQuintanadc