Retired Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95 : NPR



Pope Benedict XVI greets a crowd in Venice’s St. Mark’s Sq. in 2011.

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Pope Benedict XVI greets a crowd in Venice’s St. Mark’s Sq. in 2011.

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ROME — Pope Benedict XVI, the primary pontiff to step down for the reason that fifteenth century, died on Saturday in Vatican Metropolis at age 95.

For a number of days, he had skilled declining well being attributable to his superior age, the Vatican press workplace mentioned, with Pope Francis publicly sharing information of Benedict’s worsening situation earlier this week.

Pope Francis will preside over Benedict’s funeral on Thursday at St. Peter’s Sq., the Vatican mentioned.

Born April 16, 1927, in Germany’s Bavaria, Joseph Ratzinger was a theologian by coaching. Following the dying of Pope John Paul II in 2005, Ratzinger was elected his successor after serving for 1 / 4 of a century because the Vatican’s high enforcer of orthodoxy. He was the primary German pope for the reason that eleventh century.


German priest Joseph Ratzinger (heart) prays throughout an open-air Mass in the summertime of 1952 close to Ruhpolding within the German state of Bavaria.

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German priest Joseph Ratzinger (heart) prays throughout an open-air Mass in the summertime of 1952 close to Ruhpolding within the German state of Bavaria.

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For his almost eight years as pope, Benedict is remembered as one of the vital conservative pontiffs in current reminiscence and a church chief who, by selecting to retire, charted a brand new course for the papacy.

On Feb. 11, 2013, Benedict XVI shocked the world by asserting: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience earlier than God, I’ve come to the knowledge that my strengths, attributable to a complicated age, are now not suited to an sufficient train of the Petrine ministry.”

Gerard O’Connell, Vatican correspondent for the Jesuit journal America, mentioned it was after a fall throughout his go to to Mexico in 2012 that Benedict understood he might now not fulfill his papal duties.

“Here’s a man who in prayer discerned his personal limits and mentioned, ‘I can go thus far, I would not have the bodily power to go additional, and due to this fact I resign,’ as he explains in that interview guide,” O’Connell mentioned, referring to Final Testomony: In His Personal Phrases. “He had a way of peace that he had made the correct resolution.”

However as pope, many critics believed he had made a number of unhealthy choices.

Crises of a papacy

Benedict’s efforts to revive Christianity in secularized Europe — which he mentioned was threatened by a “dictatorship of relativism” — had been overshadowed by the numerous crises of his papacy.

He offended Jews when he lifted the excommunication of a traditionalist Holocaust-denying bishop; he was severely reprimanded by European politicians along with his remarks that condoms assist unfold AIDS; Vatican energy struggles confirmed he had little management over the church paperwork; and his papacy was haunted by clerical intercourse abuse scandals.


Benedict delivers a speech to members of the American Jewish Congress in 2009 on the Vatican. The pope mentioned it was “insupportable” to disclaim the Holocaust as he confronted controversy over a bishop who solid doubt on the Nazis’ mass killing of Jews.

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Benedict delivers a speech to members of the American Jewish Congress in 2009 on the Vatican. The pope mentioned it was “insupportable” to disclaim the Holocaust as he confronted controversy over a bishop who solid doubt on the Nazis’ mass killing of Jews.

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Benedict didn’t favor interfaith encounters with Muslims, and his conviction that Islam couldn’t be placed on an equal footing with Catholicism led to one of many worst crises of his papacy. In a September 2006 lecture on the College of Regensburg, Benedict quoted a comment made by a 14th-century emperor deriding Islam: “Present me simply what Mohammed introduced that was new, and there you will discover issues solely evil and inhuman, resembling his command to unfold by the sword the religion he preached.”

The quote triggered Muslim fury worldwide. Tensions started to ease just a few months later after Benedict visited Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and prayed silently subsequent to a Muslim cleric.

Drafted into Hitler’s navy

Ratzinger was born within the interval between the world wars within the Bavarian village of Marktl am Inn, the youngest of three kids.


Ratzinger was a German air drive assistant in 1943.

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Ratzinger was a German air drive assistant in 1943.

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He was 6 when Adolf Hitler took energy in 1933. His mother and father — a police officer and a resort prepare dinner — had been agency Catholics who opposed the Nazi regime, in response to historian Michael Frassetto.

Ratzinger entered a seminary when he was 12. On the peak of World Battle II, when he was in his teenagers, he joined the Hitler Youth, which was obligatory. In 1943, he was drafted into the navy and served briefly in an anti-aircraft battalion.

All through his lifetime, he hardly ever spoke publicly about his experiences below Nazism or of the Catholic Church’s relations with the Third Reich.

Catholic primacy

Ratzinger was ordained a priest in 1951 and started his profession educating theology. In 1962, he was appointed theological adviser to the Second Vatican Council, whose reforms ushered the Catholic Church into the twentieth century.

However by the tip of the Nineteen Sixties, Ratzinger believed the spirit of Vatican II had been betrayed.


With the towers of Munich’s cathedral within the background, Cardinal Ratzinger bids farewell to Bavarian believers in 1982. Ratzinger left Germany to move the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Religion on the Vatican.

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With the towers of Munich’s cathedral within the background, Cardinal Ratzinger bids farewell to Bavarian believers in 1982. Ratzinger left Germany to move the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Religion on the Vatican.

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Pope Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich in 1977.

4 years later, Pope John Paul II summoned him to Rome to move the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Religion — the Vatican’s theological watchdog, as soon as often called the Roman Inquisition. He held the put up for twenty-four years. Throughout that point, considered one of his most controversial paperwork was “Dominus Jesus,” which emphasised the primacy of the Catholic Church and branded non-Christian religions as “gravely poor” — doubtlessly undermining Vatican II achievements towards dialogue between Catholicism and different denominations and religions.

As Vatican doctrinal watchdog, Ratzinger grew to become a polarizing determine: He disciplined dissident theologians, and he upheld church opposition to feminine clergymen and married clergymen in addition to same-sex marriage. In a 1986 doc, he known as homosexuality an “goal dysfunction and an intrinsic ethical evil.”

As pope, Benedict continued to carry the road towards divorce, contraception, abortion and stem-cell analysis.

However Benedict backed down every so often. In 2008, his reinstatement of the standard Latin Mass, with its Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of Jews, drew robust criticism from Jewish leaders, forcing the Vatican to alter the prayer’s wording.

A couple of months later, Jewish-Catholic relations had been once more jeopardized after Benedict lifted the excommunication of a renegade bishop, Richard Williamson, who had publicly solid doubt concerning the Holocaust. Following worldwide outrage, Benedict wrote a letter to his bishops acknowledging it was an “unexpected mishap.” He mentioned he didn’t have prior information that Williamson was a Holocaust denier regardless of the bishop’s remarks circulating broadly on-line. The pope added that he realized to be extra attentive to the web for data.


Benedict addresses the devoted for the final time upon arrival in Castel Gandolfo in 2013.

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Benedict addresses the devoted for the final time upon arrival in Castel Gandolfo in 2013.

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However, Benedict once more triggered widespread anger when he introduced he was placing the World Battle II-era pope on the monitor to sainthood for what Benedict known as his “heroic virtues.” Pope Pius XII is broadly considered as not having spoken out forcefully because the Holocaust was being carried out. The sainthood course of continues to be underway.

Legacy of resigning

Church historian Massimo Faggioli mentioned he believes that by approaching the world from a purely mental and theological perspective, Benedict’s papacy was finally a failure. “As a result of to be pope you aren’t the theologian-in-chief, you’re the pastor-in-chief. That is the magic of the papal workplace,” Faggioli mentioned.

But the historian mentioned the true legacy of Benedict’s papacy was how he ended it. “Benedict XVI’s resolution to resign was a really radical interpretation of Vatican II,” Faggioli mentioned. “Going past the letter of Vatican II, that was revolutionary.”

O’Connell of America journal mentioned that in Benedict’s last remarks to the cardinals earlier than leaving the Vatican, he mentioned his successor was amongst them. “He promised that he would give loyalty and obedience to his successor, and he revered that dedication in a complete, absolute manner,” the correspondent mentioned.

After Pope Francis was elected in March 2013, Benedict lived quietly in a residence on Vatican grounds.

Regardless of strain from many church conservatives to intervene towards the reforms of his successor, the pope emeritus hardly ever appeared in public or commented on his successor.

However in a licensed biography revealed in Might in Germany, Benedict rejected fees by some Vatican watchers that he was undermining the Francis papacy from behind the scenes. He was quoted as saying he had fallen sufferer to a “malignant distortion of actuality.”

In 2022, a German Catholic Church report faulted Benedict’s dealing with of 4 intercourse abuse circumstances in Munich 4 a long time earlier. The pope emeritus acknowledged abuses and errors had taken place when he was Munich archbishop. However he denied allegations of wrongdoing.

The response, many Vatican watchers say, would taint his legacy as an individual, a theologian and as head of the Catholic Church — notably as a result of he expressed no empathy for the victims.

World leaders keep in mind Benedict

World leaders expressed disappointment over Benedict’s dying, recalling his work to advertise peace.

President of the European Fee Ursula von der Leyen mentioned Benedict despatched a “robust sign” by his resignation, whereas President Biden — America’s second Catholic president ever — mentioned he joins Catholics all over the world in mourning Benedict’s dying. In a Saturday assertion, Biden urged folks to recollect Benedict’s name for world solidarity.

“Might his concentrate on the ministry of charity proceed to be an inspiration to us all,” he mentioned.

Pope Francis thanked Benedict’s “testimony of religion and prayer, particularly in these last years of retired life” in a New Yr’s Eve vigil. He added that solely God knew “of his sacrifices provided for the great of the church.”

Regardless of a historical past of division between the Russian Orthodox Church and Catholic Church, Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has championed orthodoxy, known as Benedict a “defender of conventional Christian values.”

Ashley Ahn contributed reporting.





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