Former Pope Benedict XVI died on Saturday, December 31, at the age of 95, the Holy See confirmed in a statement. He was elected as successor to Pope St. John Paul II on April 19, 2005 and after being the top leader of the Catholic Church for almost eight years resigned, becoming the first pope to resign from the chair of St. Peter’s in almost 600 years and the eighth to do so in history, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Benedict XVI, baptized Joseph Ratzinger, was born on April 16, 1927 in Bavaria, Germany. At the age of sixteen he fought in World War II in an anti-aircraft unit. He then continued his theological and philosophical studies at the Munich Athenaeum and in 1951 was ordained a priest, according to a biography published by the Vatican.
He taught dogmatic theology at the Freising University of Applied Sciences and later worked at the Universities of Bonn, Münster and Tübingen. Gradually he began to make a name for himself in the church to the point that his work on the Second Vatican Council amazed Pope Paul VI and in 1977 he appointed him Archbishop of Munich. Years later, St. John Paul II gave him the title of prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, equivalent to the old Holy Inquisition. By then, Ratzinger had already abandoned the progressive ideals that had characterized him and gradually became more conservative. In fact, he had a reputation for defending his orthodox positions with an iron fist.
He inherited the throne of St. Peter on April 19, 2005 at the age of 78, just two days after the death of John Paul II, which made his election one of the fastest in history. However, his reign would not last long, as in 2013 he tendered his resignation and argued that his decision was due to poor health. “To govern the boat of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel requires vigor of both body and spirit, a vigor that in recent months has diminished in me in such a way that I must recognize my inability to exercise the ministry entrusted to me,” he 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.” pic.twitter.com/O5dxoPaVkT
— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) December 31, 2022
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, described him as “a shepherd surrounded by wolves” who faced numerous challenges during his pontificate. Among these challenges were abortion, sexual freedom and the increasing decatholization of the world.
In recent times the Pope Emeritus lived in very fragile health conditions. Before Christmas, Francis referred to Benedict XVI as “a saint, a man of great spiritual life”. He also said that he often visited him, that his transparent gaze edified him and that even though he spoke with a faint voice he was completely lucid and able to follow a conversation.
Benedict XVI lived the last years of his life in the Vatican monastery of calusura “Mater Ecclesiae”, where he retired a few months after submitting his resignation. In recent years, his private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, said that the pope emeritus used to pray, read, listen to music and receive visitors, but stressed that physically he was like “a candle that was slowly and serenely extinguished,” as Corriere della Sera recalled.
For many, Benedict XVI will go down in history as the first tweeting pope and a brilliant theologian who during his pontificate struggled to uncover abuses in the Church. Others, however, will remember him for suggesting that Islam was inherently violent.
-Thailand News (TN)