Former Pope Benedict XVI has died
On Sunday, Pope Francis observed the traditional World Day of Peace observed by the Roman Catholic Church. Still, the beginning of the new year at the Vatican was overshadowed by the passing of his predecessor, Benedict. In St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis presided over a Mass as Benedict’s body was prepared for three days of open viewing that would begin on Monday. Benedict passed away on Saturday at the age of 95.
The first photos of the late Benedict, who was dressed in red and gold liturgical vestments and was lying in state in the monastery chapel when he passed away, were made public by the Vatican on Sunday. Contrary to what happened after Pope John Paul’s passing in 2005, when his body was transported in a solemn outdoor procession that was broadcast live around the world, his body will be taken to the basilica in a private ceremony.
His funeral on Thursday will be straightforward and solemn, as was Benedict’s wish. A sitting pope presiding over a funeral for his predecessor will be a historic first in recent centuries. The last pontiff to resign was Benedict, who left office in 2013. Francis requested the Madonna to accompany “our beloved” Pope Emeritus Benedict “on his passage from this world to God” in his homily on January 1, which is also the feast of the Mother of God.
One of the Mass’s prayers also included a remembrance of Benedict. Francis urged his audience in his sermon to actively work for peace rather than “waste time glued to a keyboard in front of a computer screen” and instead to “dirty our hands and to do some good.” Francis reiterated his call for an end to the conflict in Ukraine later at his Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square, calling it an “intolerable contrast” with the day’s theme.
Who was Pope Benedict XVI? An examination of Joseph Ratzinger’s life, a German scholar
image via BuzzFeed
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, the future pope emeritus Benedict XVI, was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Germany, not far from the Austrian border.
The early years of Ratzinger were shaped by his faith and by World War II. Ratzinger was a teenager when Hitler rose to power in Traunstein, a heavily Catholic area of Bavaria. According to Ratzinger’s memoir, school administrators enrolled him and the rest of his class in the Hitler Youth movement against his will when he was 14 on the orders of Nazi officials.
Ratzinger’s prior to becoming pope: He was enlisted in the German army in 1943. Ratzinger joined an anti-aircraft unit and served there for the following two years. Later, after he had deserted, the US military captured him. He received his doctorate in theology in 1953, and over time, he rose to the position of professor, instructing fundamental theology and dogma at four German universities.
In 1981, he assumed leadership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican office in charge of policing “the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world.” This was one of his most significant career advancements. Ratzinger was given the moniker “Cardinal No” because of his efforts to suppress the liberation theology movement, religious diversity challenges to conventional beliefs regarding things like homosexuality, and calls to ordain women as priests.
He became embroiled in several debates over the years, calling communism and the Soviet Union “a shame of our time” and calling homosexuality “an intrinsic moral evil.” Ratzinger was dean of the College of Cardinals at the time of Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005. The College of Cardinals is a prestigious group that advises the pope and, when necessary, selects a new pontiff.
Ratzinger’s life as Pope Benedict: When Benedict announced in 2013 that he would step down as pope, citing his “advanced age,” he shocked the Catholic faithful and religious authorities all over the world. Benedict was chosen as the 265th pope in 2005. He was the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign from office rather than hold the position in perpetuity. Between two charismatic and well-known popes, St. John Paul II and Pope Francis, Benedict presented a different image. He was quiet and learned, more at home among theological tomes than adoring crowds, according to friends and biographers.
The Benedictine monk, who was born in Germany, saw the church and himself as a defense against secular Western social trends, particularly what he called the “dictatorship of relativism.” He frequently urged Catholics to maintain a fortress mentality, arguing that perhaps a smaller, “purer” church would best uphold Catholicism’s customs and teachings.
Benedict was divisive while serving as pope. Conservatives praised him and praised his careful theology and erudite writings. However, because of his steadfast insistence on fidelity to church doctrine and willingness to silence dissent, critics, particularly in the postmodern West, dubbed him “God’s Rottweiler.”While Benedict was a senior cleric, he faced criticism for how he handled the sexual abuse crisis that gripped the Catholic church at the time. He was found guilty of knowing about priests who were abusing children but doing nothing when he served as the archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982, according to a damning report released in January 2022.
Pope Benedict receives both Honor and Criticism
image via The New York Times
The Vatican published Benedict’s two-page “spiritual testimony” on Saturday night. It was written in 2006, the year following his election as pope. No explanation was given as to why Benedict did not update it as he aged and weakened. He prayed in it that God would accept him into internal life “despite all my sins and insufficiencies,” in a broad, spiritual way. Francis described Benedict as a noble, kind, and gift to the Church and the world on Saturday.
While conservative Catholics and world leaders continued to pay tribute to the former pope, many others were very critical of his pontificate. Some recalled the harsh punishment he meted out to progressive theologians when he was in charge of the Vatican’s doctrinal division under Pope John Paul II, particularly in Latin America. Liberal Catholics referred to the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as “God’s Rottweiler” as a result of his actions.
Additionally, while some have credited Benedict with taking significant steps to formalize the Vatican’s response to clergy sexual abuse, victim advocacy groups have accused him of doing everything in his power to defend the organization. The anti-abuse organization SNAP stated that Pope Benedict XVI’s passing serves as a reminder that, like John Paul II, Benedict was more concerned with the Church’s deteriorating reputation and money flowing to the hierarchy than understanding the concept of true apologies followed by true amends to victims of abuse.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada shared the opinion of many Vatican officials who collaborated with Benedict that the German pontiff had “a great legacy” as a man of God and a man of culture.
“Lord, I love you,” Pope Benedict XVI’s last words
image via America Magazine
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s longtime secretary reportedly quoted a nurse who assisted in providing care for the 95-year-old former pontiff in his final hours as saying, “Lord, I love you.”
The nurse claimed to have heard Benedict say those words at around three in the morning on Saturday, according to Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, a German prelate who lived in the Vatican monastery where Benedict moved after his retirement in 2013. Later in the morning, the retired pope passed away.
“Gaenswein reported to the Vatican’s official media that Benedict XVI uttered the words “Lord, I love you” in Italian in a faint but distinct voice as the carers were switching shifts. The nurse later recounted what happened, but I wasn’t present at the time, the archbishop said. They were his last understandable words because he was unable to communicate after that.
Religious leaders praise the former pope
Following the passing of former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the age of 95 in Vatican City, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England, said he is “mourning” the late leader of the Roman Catholic Church. According to a statement from the Vatican, Benedict passed away on Saturday. He was the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign from his office rather than hold it for life.
Welby said in a statement on Saturday that Pope Benedict was “one of the greatest theologians of his age – committed to the faith of the Church and stalwart in its defense.” He looked to Jesus Christ, the manifestation of the invisible God, in everything, not least in his writing and preaching. It was crystal clear that Christ served as the foundation for his thoughts and prayers. The first pope to do so since the fifteenth century, Pope Benedict made the brave and humble decision to resign in 2013. By freely making this decision, he acknowledged the universal human frailty.
The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, stated that he will remember the former pope with “love and gratitude.”He said on Saturday, “The human family mourns the passing of this learned, wise, and holy man, who spoke the truth in love.” “His death is especially felt by the Church family, who are also grateful for the gift of having him as a Holy Father and good shepherd. “I feel the loss because he was so supportive and gave me opportunities like becoming the Archbishop of New York and a Cardinal nomination.
We remember Pope Benedict XVI with respect, love, and gratitude because of his legacy of “faith and reason,” Dolan continued. At Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York at 10 a.m. local time, Cardinal Dolan will offer prayers for the Pope Emeritus, according to the statement.
Following the passing of Pope Emeritus, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church extended his condolences to Pope Francis. According to a message posted on the Moscow Patriarchate’s official website, Kirill told Francis he had learned of Benedict’s passing with “sorrow.” Benedict led the Roman Catholic Church during a challenging historical era that was characterized by numerous internal and external challenges. “His Holiness’s many years of life marked a whole epoch in the history of the Roman Catholic Church,” Kirill said of Benedict. In an effort to “overcome the sometimes painful legacy of the past,” Kirill added that relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church had “developed significantly” during Benedict’s leadership.
Pope Francis thanked Benedict XVI for his service to God and the church.
After the 95-year-old pontiff passed away the previous day, Pope Francis thanked Benedict XVI for his service to God and the church on Sunday. Francis said, “Let us all join together, with one heart and one soul, in thanking God for the gift of this faithful servant of the Gospel and of the Church,” as he addressed the crowd gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.
The Vatican announced that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who presided as pope from 2005 until his resignation in 2013, passed away at his residence on the Vatican grounds after several days of deteriorating health. The first pope to step down in 600 years was Benedict. “Today we entrust to our Blessed Mother our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI so that she may accompany him in his passage from this world to God,” Francis said earlier during his homily at Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Beginning on Monday, Benedict’s body will lie in state in Saint Peter’s Basilica. In St. Peter’s Square, Francis will preside over Benedict’s funeral on Thursday morning.
The funeral service for former Pope Benedict XVI will be held on January 5 in St. Peter’s Square.
According to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, the funeral for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will take place on January 5 at 9:30 a.m. local time in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.
Pope Francis will preside over the funeral service.
According to a Saturday report from Vatican News, the former pope’s body will lie in state in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican starting on January 2 for the faithful to say their final farewells.
His funeral will be “simple,” as requested by Pope Emeritus, Bruni said.