Former Pope Benedict XVI dies aged 95 as tributes pour in

He was the head of the Catholic Church for nearly eight years before stepping down from the role

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Former Pope Benedict has died aged 95.

Benedict was being cared for in a former convent inside the Vatican, where he lived since 2013, when he became the first pope in about 600 years to resign instead of ruling for life.

Pope Francis first disclosed that Benedict's health had seriously deteriorated on Wednesday, when he said that his predecessor was "very sick" and called for special prayers for him.

Former Pope Benedict died on Saturday in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican, a spokesman for the Holy See said.

Former Pope Benedict XVI has died aged 95.
Former Pope Benedict XVI has died aged 95.

A statement released said: "With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible,"

Benedict, the first German pope in 1,000 years, had good relations with his successor, Pope Francis, but his continued presence inside the Vatican after he stepped down in 2013 further polarised the Church ideologically.

A piano-playing professor and formidable theologian, Benedict admitted he struggled to impose himself on the opaque Vatican bureaucracy and stumbled from crisis to crisis during his eight-year reign.

Benedict repeatedly apologised for the Church's failure to root out sexual abuse of children by clergy, and although he was the first pope to take serious action against abuse, the efforts failed to halt a rapid decline in church attendance in the West, especially in Europe.

In 2022, an independent report in Germany alleged that Benedict had failed to take action in four abuse cases when he was Archbishop of Munich between 1977-1982.

Benedict will be best remembered for shocking the world on Feb. 11, 2013, when he announced in Latin that he was resigning, telling cardinals he was too old and frail to lead an institution with more than 1.3 billion members.

He became pope after his charismatic predecessor Pope John Paul II, died in 2005. Benedict admitted to difficulties in an emotional farewell.

Benedict will be best remembered for shocking the world when he announced that he was resigning
Benedict will be best remembered for shocking the world when he announced that he was resigning

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said Benedict was “one of the great theologians of the 20th century”.

In a statement, he said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict. He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century.

“I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”

“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.”

“Pope Benedict is very much in my heart and in my prayers. I give thanks to God for his ministry and leadership.”

People were quick to take to Twitter to share their sadness at the news as they mourned together.

One user offered a prayer for the late pope, writing: "May the ancestors welcome him with open arms! Eternal rest grant unto Pope Benedict XVI, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the beloved soul of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace, Pope Benedict XVI. Amen."

Another wrote: "Rest in the Lord Pope Benedict XVI, you remain one of the best gift God gave to his church".