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International News: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dead at 95

Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2022. 9:00 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: FOX News reports that the Vatican has announced the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, at the age of 95 Saturday morning.

The German-born cleric is perhaps most remembered outside the Roman Catholic Church for resigning in 2013 after a near-eight-year-reign, the first papal abdication since 1415, and for being caught up in the church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal.

After a youth spent in the shadow of the Nazi regime and a brief time in the German military and as a prisoner of war during the later stages of the Second World War, Ratzinger began his career in 1951, quickly rising within the church to the status of cardinal within 26 years.

Among Catholics, Cardinal Ratzinger built a positive reputation for his intense scholarship and prolific writing career.  He was also one of the first vanguards in tackling the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church while serving as a cardinal under Pope St. John Paul II, though he later had to apologize for any failures of his archdiocesan leadership after critics claimed he failed to act on four cases of abuse under his jurisdiction while serving as Archbishop of Munich.

Benedict was elected to the papacy in 2005. He pushed for greater cooperation and ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and other religions, most notably Islam and Judaism. He also encouraged greater understanding and reconciliation with Protestant churches, despite a firm rejection of Protestant theology.

After his succession by Pope Francis, he fought off claims that his resignation was not legitimate and has supported his successor in public; they were photographed together, regularly prayed together, and Benedict spoke approvingly of his successor in rare interviews.

Pope Francis, asked in 2022 if he would resign in the event he was incapable of fulfilling his role, lauded Benedict’s decision, calling his abdication “a great example” of how to address popes’ longevity in the modern age.

But as the BBC reports, new protocols will have to be created for observing the death of the former pope. Pope Francis will officiate the funeral, to be held in St Peter’s Square. According to the former pope’s biographer Peter Seewald, he said he wanted to be buried in the tomb that belonged to his predecessor John Paul II before he was canonized and moved elsewhere in the Vatican.

As Benedict was previously the head of state of Vatican City – an independent city-state surrounded by Rome and governed by the Pope – it is possible there will be a state funeral with foreign leaders invited, but even that to date is uncharted territory.


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