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Tipsheet

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Dead at 95

Pier Paolo Cito

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, former head of the Catholic church, passed away at age 95 on Saturday.

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“With sorrow, I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 AM in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” the Holy See Press Office announced, according to Vatican News. The former pope will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican beginning Monday.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, told reporters that Pope Francis will preside over the funeral of Benedict XVI on Jan. 5 at 9:30 a.m. CET. He also shared that the late pope received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick at the end of Mass earlier this week.

“And speaking to reporters after the briefing, he said Benedict specifically asked that everything - including the funeral - be marked by simplicity, just as he lived his life,” Vatican News reported.

This week, Pope Francis requested prayers for Benedict XVI and revealed that he was “very ill.”

“I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is supporting the Church in silence. Remember him - he is very ill - asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church until the end,” Pope Francis said in his remarks to a General Audience at the Vatican on Wednesday. 

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On Saturday, Pope Francis shared a statement on the passing of Benedict XVI. 

“At this moment, my thought goes spontaneously to dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who left us this morning,” Pope Francis said. “We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind. And we feel such gratitude in our hearts; gratitude to God for having given him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years and his recollected life. Only God knows the value and the power of his intercession, of the sacrifices he offered for the good of the church.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. According to Catholic News Agency, he was baptized into the Catholic church the same day. At age 12, he entered a minor seminary.

According to the Associated Press, the Pope Emeritus wrote in his memoirs of being enlisted in the Nazi youth movement against his will at age 14. And in 1945, he deserted the German army with his brother to rejoin the seminary and was held as a prisoner of war until WWII concluded.

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Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005, shortly after the death of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. He took the name, Benedict XVI. In 2013, the former pope shocked the world when he became the first pontiff in 600 years to announce he would step down. In his final public remarks as pope, Benedict said, “I’m simply a pilgrim who is starting the last stage of his pilgrimage on Earth,” according to CNA. He then assumed the title “pope emeritus.” Benedict XVI was the longest-living person to have been pope.

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