The Vatican has announced the death of retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – real name is Joseph Alois Ratzinger. He was 95. The statement from the Vatican said the pope passed away in the early hours of today, Saturday – the last day of the year, but it was silent on the cause of death
Pope Benedict, elected Pope in 2005 soon after the demise of Pope John Paul II resigned in 2013 citing declining health “of body and mind”, and “for the good of the church”.
He was the first pope to resign from the papacy since 1415.
Benedict has since been replaced by current Pope Francis, now 86, himself also rumoured to be in failing health. The coexistence of two living Popes of the church was spectacular and is now a source of some uncertainty, with questions being asked about how Benedict will be mourned, and how a living pope will preside over the funeral of a deceased one.
The Vatican clarified the funeral will be at St. Peter’s Square, on Thursday and will be presided over by Pope Francis but he will lie in state inside the Basilica on Monday.
Benedict was born in Bavaria, Germany. He came of age after World War I at the same time the Nazi regime was growing in power.
His Roman Catholic family — harassed and punished by the Nazi Party for their opposition to state policies — shaped his desire to commit to the church.
All previous 148 popes were buried in the crypt beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It is yet to be seen if Pope Benedict XVI will join his predecessors there.
The deceased pope will be remembered as an intellectual and spiritual giant who upheld church doctrine in the face of the increasing secularism of the 21st century, but critics say he did too little to address sexual abuses in the church.
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