Pope Benedict XVI died on Saturday in the Vatican City at 95, according to the Vatican press office.
According to the office, Pope Benedict XVI was already ill due to his advanced age. His health was already failing, and he died as a result. Earlier last week, Pope Francis officially said that Pope Benedict XVI was already suffering from health issues. Pope Francis will preside over the late Pope John Paul II’s burial coming Thursday in St. Peter’s Square, according to the Vatican.
The late Pope Joseph Ratzinger was born in Bavaria, Germany, on April 26, 1927, and attended substantial theological studies. When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, the congregation chose him to be the next Pope, owing to his knowledge and 25 years of service as the Vatican’s foremost enforcer of orthodoxy.
As a result, Pope Benedict XVI is the first German Pope since the 11th century. Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI will be known as the most conservative pontiff in history. His decision in 2013 rocked the globe and altered the present face of the papacy.
“Here is a man who in prayer discerned his own limits and said, ‘I can go so far, I do not have the physical strength to go further, and therefore I resign,’ as he explains in that interview book. He had a sense of peace that he had made the right decision,” said Gerard O’Connell, a Vatican correspondent.
Meanwhile, after resigning from his position, Pope Benedict XVI faced criticism from others, who claimed that his departure impacted the Vatican’s direction. Other opponents criticized Benedict’s other measures as well.
“They’re sympathetic with Benedict, but they saw that really he was not able to push through some big items on his agenda. They see Benedict as perhaps a frustrated pope, frustrated in his ambitions, frustrated in part by his own top officials, and I think that’s where we’re seeing some more open criticism than we ever saw before,” said one Vatican Diaries author John Thavis.
“Pope Benedict came into office knowing more about abuse than any other Catholic official on the planet, and I think many victims and many Catholics had some real hope that he would clean house, and he clearly didn’t,” added David Clohessy, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests executive director.
“With Pope Benedict XVI, we saw the reverse — we saw the pope obliged to defend his advisers who were attacked, and the outcome was that the pope was overexposed and eventually was forced to resign,” adds Massimo Franco, another author.
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Pope Benedict XVI relinquished his post
Because of his revelation, the late Pope stunned the globe. Benedict’s resignation is the first time a candidate has voluntarily resigned from the papacy since the 15th century.
“I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After repeatedly examining my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he wrote.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on April 19 2005, in such a way, that as from February 28 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”
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Enforcing conservative policies
Ratzinger was consecrated in 1951. Following that, he taught theology. He was appointed a theological consultant to the Second Vatican Council eleven years ago. Working as a Vatican consultant helped Ratzinger bring reforms inside the Catholic Church of the twentieth century.
In 1977, the Pope of the moment, Pope Paul VI, nominated him as archbishop of Munich. Then, after several years, Pope John Paul II appointed him as the congregation’s president for the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican’s theological watchdog.
Ratzinger, who had substantial authority and influence in the Vatican’s hierarchy, imposed profoundly conservative ideas. For example, he rigorously prohibited female priests, same-sex weddings, and priests who wished to marry.
Meanwhile, he cracked down on homosexuality, declaring it an “objective disease and an essential moral evil” in a public declaration issued in 1986.
Pope Benedict XVI fought against abortion, birth control, stem-cell research, and divorce when he was elected.
Photo Credit: Gasper Furman