Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95

Pope Benedict XVI at an open-air mass in the Terreiro do Passo in Lisbon on May 11, 2010. Photo from Flickr.

Zoë Hill Print Editor-in-Chief

Pope Benedict XVI died Saturday morning at a monastery in the Vatican, according to the Holy See press office. He was 95.

“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 [a.m.] in the Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible,” Director Matteo Bruni said.

The pope will lie in state at Saint Peter’s Basilica beginning on Monday “so the faithful can pay their respects,” Bruni said. 

In the week leading to his death, the press office and Pope Francis provided updates on the former pope’s worsening health. Pope Francis described his predecessor as “very ill” Wednesday in his last general audience address of the year. He asked for prayers for Benedict as the press office confirmed that his health was deteriorating, according to Vatican News

“We ask the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the church to the very end,” Pope Francis said. 

Pope Benedict XVI made history nearly a decade ago when he retired from the papacy due to his health and age, which he felt made him unable to do the full duties of the job. Then 85, he was the first modern pope to retire, and one of only six popes in the church’s history to retire. Prior to Benedict’s surprise announcement in February 2013, Pope Gregory XII was the last pope to retire from the role in 1415. 

According to Vatican News, Bruni said the pope emeritus’ funeral will be held Thursday at 9:30 a.m. CET in St. Peter’s Square. 

“Benedict specifically asked that everything — including the funeral — be marked by simplicity, just as he lived his life,” according to Vatican News

Cincinnati’s Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr asked for prayers Friday morning for the former pope’s soul, who he described as “a vicar of Peter and faithful shepherd of Christ’s Church.”

“Pope Benedict is widely known as one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, but this distinction should not overshadow his genuine personal interactions and humble nature,” Schnurr said. “Those of us who interacted with him can attest to his ready sense of humor and consistently kind nature.” 

President Joseph Biden released a statement Saturday afternoon, offering his and First Lady Jill Biden’s sorrow in learning of the pope’s passing and gratitude for his service to the church. 

“He will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the church, guided by his principles and faith,” Biden said. “May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all.”

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