Former Pope Benedict XVI Dies At 95

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

VATICAN CITY (Worthy News) – Former Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned as pontiff citing poor health, has died at his Vatican residence, aged 95, the Vatican said Saturday. He died almost a decade after he stood down.

“With sorrow, I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today [Saturday] at 9:34 AM in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” confirmed Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Benedict spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican.

As of Monday morning, January 2, “the body of the Pope Emeritus will be in Saint Peter’s Basilica so the faithful can bid farewell,” the Vatican said in comments monitored by Worthy News.

Funeral arrangements were due to be announced shortly.

Benedict led the Catholic Church of some 1.2 billion believers for less than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

Usually, a pope stays in that position till his death. His dramatic decision, he announced in his typical soft-spoken way, enabled the conclave to elect Pope Francis as his successor.

The two popes then lived side-by-side in the Vatican gardens, an unprecedented arrangement that observers say set the stage for future “popes emeritus” to do the same.

OLDEST POPE

Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, Benedict was 78 when in 2005, he became one of the oldest popes ever elected.

His papacy was overshadowed by the Catholic Church facing allegations, legal claims, and official reports into decades of child abuse by priests.

Earlier this year, Benedict acknowledged that errors were made in the handling of abuse cases while he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.

While controversial, he was praised for fighting antisemitism even within his Church. His first official act as pope was a letter to Rome’s Jewish community, and he became the second pope in history, after John Paul, to enter a synagogue.

In his 2011 book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Benedict argued there was no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death.

“It’s very clear Benedict is a true friend of the Jewish people,” said Rabbi David Rosen, who heads the interreligious relations office for the American Jewish Committee at the time of Benedict’s retirement.

Yet Benedict also offended some Jews by his defense of and promotion toward Catholic “sainthood” of Pope Pius XII, the World War II-era pope accused by some of having failed to sufficiently denounce the Holocaust. And they condemned Benedict when he removed the ex-communication of a traditionalist British bishop who had denied the Holocaust.

ANGERING MUSLIMS

Benedict also angered Muslims when in a speech in September 2006 — five years after the September 11 attacks in the United States he quoted a Byzantine emperor.

The emperor described some of the teachings of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as “evil and inhuman,” particularly his command to spread the faith
“by the sword,” recalled Benedict.

A subsequent comment after the massacre of Christians in Egypt led the Al Azhar center in Cairo, the seat of Sunni Muslim learning, to suspend ties with the Vatican. Those ties were restored under Pope Francis.

Benedict also enraged the United Nations and European governments in 2009 when, en route to Africa, he told reporters that the AIDS problem couldn’t be resolved by distributing condoms.

“On the contrary, it increases the problem,” Benedict said. A year later, he issued a revision saying if a male prostitute were to use a condom to avoid passing HIV that causes AIDS, he might be taking the first step toward more responsible sexuality.

Despite controversies, Benedict firmly upheld the church’s bans against divorce, birth control, abortion, and stem-cell research.

Liberal Catholics claimed Benedict XVI was a fierce opponent of modernizing reforms.

But the conservative faithful regarded Benedict as an intellectual and dedicated church leader who restored the traditionalist core of Catholicism.

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