Former pope Benedict XVI passes away

The Vatican says his body will lie in state from Monday in St.Peter's Basilica

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Published: Sat 31 Dec 2022, 1:51 PM

Last updated: Sat 31 Dec 2022, 2:41 PM

Former Pope Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down, died on Saturday aged 95 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican where he had lived since his resignation, a spokesman for the Holy See 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," the spokesman said in a written statement.

The Vatican said his body will lie in state from Monday in St.Peter's Basilica. The Vatican has painstakingly elaborate rituals for what happens after a reigning pope dies but no publicly known ones for a former pope.

Earlier this week, Pope Francis disclosed during his weekly general audience that his predecessor was "very sick", and asked for people to pray for him.

For nearly 25 years, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict was the powerful head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Conservatives in the Church have looked to the former pope as their standard bearer and some ultra-traditionalists even refused to acknowledge Francis as a legitimate pontiff.

They have criticised Francis for his more welcoming approach to members of the LGBTQ+ community and to Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the Church, saying both were undermining traditional values.

Key dates

- April 16, 1927: Born in Marktl am Inn, a small town in Bavaria in southern Germany, and named Joseph Ratzinger.

- 1941: Forced to join the Hitler Youth.

- 1951: Ordained a priest.

- 1977: Named archbishop of Munich and becomes a cardinal.

- 1981: Heads the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, once known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition. The post gives him ultimate responsibility to investigate abuse cases.

- April 19, 2005: Elected pope, succeeding John Paul II, and takes the name Benedict XVI.

- January 2006: Publishes his first encyclical "God is love", followed by "Saved by hope" in November 2007 and "Charity in truth" in July 2009.

- February 11, 2013: Announces his resignation, which takes effect on February 28. He is the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages. Becomes pope emeritus.

- January 20, 2022: Begs forgiveness, but issues a strong denial, after a report for the Munich church authorities says he failed to stop paedophilia by priests while he was archbishop between 1977 and 1982.

- December 31, 2022: Dies in the Vatican aged 95.


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