Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at the age of 95

VATICAN CITY.- The emeritus pope Benedict sixteenth, the German theologian who tried to awaken Christianity in a secularized Europe and will be remembered as the first pontiff to resign in 600 years, died on Saturday the 31st. He was 95 years old.

Pope Francis will officiate his funeral at the Saint Peter’s Square on Thursday the 5th. It will be the first time in history that a pontiff will preside over the funeral of his predecessor.

Benedict surprised the world on February 11, 2013 when he announced, in his typical Latin and with a soft tone, that he no longer had the strength to continue leading a Catholic Church with 1.2 billion followers, which he had commanded for eight years amid scandals. and indifference.

His unexpected decision gave way to the conclave that elected the Pope Francisco as his successor. The two pontiffs have lived together in the Vatican gardens ever since, in an unprecedented agreement that laid the foundations for future popes emeritus to do the same.

“It is with regret that I announce that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away today at 9:34 a.m. in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery of the Vatican. As soon as possible, more information will be provided,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement Saturday morning.

The faithful will be able to pay their last respects to the mortal remains of the religious, which will be exposed to the public from Monday 2 in the Basilica of San Pedrothe Vatican said. Benedict had asked that his funeral be held solemnly but “simply,” Bruni told reporters.

Benedict, whose health had deteriorated during Christmas, received the sacrament of the union of the sick on Wednesday after daily mass at the monastery, in the presence of his secretary and the consecrated women who attended his home, the spokesman added.

Pope emeritus, former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has said he never wanted to be pope, and at 78 he planned to spend his last years writing in the “peace and quiet” of his native Bavaria, Germany.

Instead, he took over from beloved St. John Paul II in 2005 and led the institution amid a clerical sexual abuse scandal, followed by another when his own butler stole his personal documents and handed them over to a journalist.

As he once recounted, when he was elected pope, he felt as if he had been put through the “guillotine.”

Despite this, he approached the task with the firm intention of rekindling faith in a world that, as he often lamented, seemed to believe it could do without God.

“In large parts of the world today there is a strange forgetfulness of God,” he told the million young people who gathered in a field on his first foreign trip as pope, at World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, in 2005. “It seems like everything is the same even without him.”

Pope Francisco

In this file photo, Pope Francis (right) embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before an event in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on September 28, 2014.

In this file photo, Pope Francis (right) embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before an event in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on September 28, 2014.

AP / Gregorio Borgia, file

With some key, often contentious decisions, he sought to remind Europe of its Christian heritage. And he led the Church down a traditional, conservative path that often alienated progressives. He relaxed restrictions on celebrating the Old Latin Mass and cracked down on American nuns, insisting that the Church remain faithful to her doctrine and traditions in the face of a changing world. It was a path reversed in many ways by his successor Francis, who by prioritizing mercy over morality drove away traditionalists who had been lenient with Benedict.

But the legacy of Benedict XVI was irreversibly marked by the worldwide outbreak of the sexual abuse scandal in 2010, despite the fact that in his time as cardinal he was responsible for the Vatican changing its approach on the matter.

Already retired, the emeritus pope was singled out in an independent report for his treatment of four priests when he was bishop of Munich. He denied having committed any crime on a personal level but apologized for any “serious misconduct.”

Born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl Am Inn, in Bavaria, Benedict wrote in his memoirs that he was enlisted in the Nazi youth against his will in 1941, when he was 14 years old and membership was compulsory. He deserted from the German army in April 1945, in the last days of World War II.

He was ordained a priest with his brother Georg in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was made bishop of Munich in 1977, and Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal three months later.