Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95.
Pope Francis had during the mass on December 28 asked the faithful to pray for his “very sick” predecessor.
“I’d like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Emeritus Pope Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the church. I remind you that he is very sick. Let’s ask the Lord to comfort him and sustain him in this testimony of love to the church to the very end,’’ Pope Francis had said.
“When Holy Father Francis tells us to unite in prayer, we will do that today, especially with young Christians,” Rheinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising had responded.
The Vatican states that Pope Benedict who was born Joseph Ratzinger had been residing in the monastery on Vatican grounds since retiring in February 2013.
It added that Vatican the health of the retired Pope underwent a “worsening in the last hours” due to his age and that doctors had been constantly monitoring the 95-year-old’s condition.
When Pope Emeritus Benedict turned 95 in April 2022, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, his secretary, said the retired pontiff was, “naturally… physically relatively weak and fragile, but rather lucid.”
Former Pope Benedict served as head of the Church and the sovereign of the Vatican City State from April 2005 until his resignation in February 2013. The first Pope to resign from his role as sovereign of the Vatican City since 1415, he cited health issues linked with advanced age at the time.
Earlier this year, former Pope Benedict XVI admitted to giving false testimony to German investigators probing child sexual abuse by the country’s Catholic clergy.
Benedict apologized for the sex abuse scandals that emerged within the church, expressed “deep remorse,” but denied personal wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the first Pope from the Americas, Francis, who was elected to the papacy after Benedict’s retirement, has of late also given rise to speculation that he may be about to leave office. The rumors grew stronger after the head of the Catholic Church revealed in an interview with a Spanish news outlet in mid-December 2022 that he had already signed his resignation letter.
“I have already signed my renunciation. The Secretary of State at the time was Tarcisio Bertone. I signed it and said: ‘If I should become impaired for medical reasons or whatever, here is my renunciation.’ I don’t know who Cardinal Bertone has given that letter to, but I handed it to him when he was the Secretary of State,” Francis was quoted as saying.