Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 31, 2022 / 05:25 am
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a leading theologian of the 20th century and the first pope to resign from office in nearly 600 years, has died at the age of 95.
Follow along here for live updates, all times are in U.S. Eastern Standard Time:
Dec. 31, 3:34 p.m.
The Vatican on Saturday evening published the Spiritual Testament of Benedict XVI, written on Aug. 29, 2006, one year and four months into his pontificate. Each pope writes a spiritual testament to be made public only after his death.
"Pray for me, so that the Lord, despite all my sins and insufficiencies, welcomes me into the eternal dwellings. To all those entrusted to me, day by day, my heartfelt prayer goes out," the pope emeritus wrote.
Click here to read CNA’s translation of the full testament from Italian.
Dec. 31, 1:45 p.m.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a California Democratic congresswoman and a Catholic, praised Benedict XVI, saying he “stirred the hearts of people of all faiths.”
“Paul and I join our fellow Catholics in mourning the passing of Pope Benedict XVI: a leader whose devotion, scholarship, and message stirred the hearts of people of all faiths,” Pelosi said.
“I am always moved by Pope Benedict’s encyclical, ‘God is Love,’ where he quotes St. Augustine highlighting our duty as public servants to fight for justice. May it be comfort to Pope Francis and the Vatican community that so many pray for Pope Benedict during this sad time,” the speaker said.
Pelosi also called to mind her visit to the Vatican and Benedict XVI’s trip to the U.S., saying: “It was my privilege to visit His Holiness in the Vatican and to welcome him to our nation’s capital.”
In his first public comments since the pope emeritus’ death, Pope Francis gave thanks for the good works and sacrifices of Benedict XVI.
“My thought naturally goes to dear Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who left us this morning. We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind,” Pope Francis said at a prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“We feel such gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world; gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of 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,” said Francis.
“Jill and I join Catholics around the world, and so many others, in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I had the privilege of spending time with Pope Benedict at the Vatican in 2011 and will always remember his generosity and welcome as well as our meaningful conversation,” the president said.
“He will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith. As he remarked during his 2008 visit to the White House, ‘the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity.’ May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all,” said Biden.
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Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m.
The Vatican announced that Benedict XVI will be buried in the crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica.
The tombs in the Vatican crypt are close to the remains of the Catholic Church’s first pope, St. Peter the Apostle.
Benedict XVI’s remains will stay at Mater Ecclesiae Monastery until Jan. 2, 2022, the Vatican said. The former pope's body will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica from the morning of Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, until his funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Jan. 5, 2023. Read more here.
Dec. 31, 12:19 p.m.
Former representative Dan Lipinski of Illinois, a Catholic Democrat, expressed his admiration for the former pope and called for all to pray for his soul.
Patrick Kelly, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, expressed his condolences on behalf of the organization's over 2 million members across the world.
“As we continue to be confirmed and strengthened by Pope Benedict’s teachings about the eternal truths of our faith, Knights of Columbus throughout the world join in prayer for the repose of his soul,” Kelly said.
Dec. 31, 11:19 a.m.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences on behalf of the Israeli people to the “Christian world.”
In a tweet, Netanyahu remembered Benedict “as a true friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I send my deep condolences to the Christian world on the passing of Pope Benedict XVI pic.twitter.com/bEwbmnsSTD
Cardinal Raymond Burke reflected on the life and papacy of Benedict and said that he was grateful to serve the late pope as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
“In my meetings with him, while he was still Roman Pontiff and after his abdication, I was always impressed by his extraordinary intelligence and knowledge, coupled with Christ-like meekness,” Burke said. His full statement can be read here.
Dec. 31, 10:36 a.m.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York issued a statement mourning the loss of Benedict, who raised him to the level of a cardinal in 2012. Dolan asked that each of his parishes offer Mass for the repose of Benedict's soul “and in thanksgiving for his vocation as Successor of St. Peter.“
World leaders have been sending their condolences regarding the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, including European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, who tweeted: “Europe mourns him. May he rest in peace.”
“Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness.”
Saddened to learn of the demise of His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called the late pope emeritus “a giant of faith and reason.”
Benedetto XVI è stato un gigante della fede e della ragione. Ha messo la sua vita al servizio della Chiesa universale e ha parlato, e continuerà a parlare, al cuore e alla mente degli uomini con la profondità spirituale, culturale e intellettuale del suo Magistero. pic.twitter.com/NBPxMyMykT
Peter Kilpatrick, president of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., mourned the death of Benedict and praised him for his inspirational teachings on the Catholic faith.
“A lifelong educator, Benedict sought to help the faithful rededicate themselves to worship and to stand in awe of God. At the same time, he also wanted the faithful to understand well the primacy of love (charity) in the life of the Christian and how they could share that love of Christ with others,” Kilpatrick wrote. His full statement can be read here.
Dec. 31, 9:15 a.m.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a reflection on the pope emeritus:
“The passing from this life of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, sounds contrasting notes of sorrow and gratitude in my heart.
“The Church gives thanks for the treasured ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. A superb theologian who lent his talents as a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, he continued throughout his long life to be an effective teacher of the faith. As a priest, university professor and theologian, archbishop, and cardinal, his voice in deepening an authentic understanding led all of us to a more profound love of truth and the mystery of God. It will take many years for us to delve more deeply into the wealth of learning that he has left us.
“Personally, I remember many meetings with him while I served in the Secretariat of State, and I will never forget his greeting to me at the first General Audience I attended some weeks after his election to the Chair of Peter. 'Ci conosciamo' (we know each other) were his warm words of welcome as he took my hand between his.”
Catholics and people worldwide are invited to “offer your condolences, express your gratitude for the life and work of Pope Benedict XVI, and join with the faithful from all over the world in prayer for the deceased pontiff” online at a website dedicated to late pope emeritus located here. Each person is asked to leave his or her name and email address along with a personal message.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston reflected on the late pope, who made him a cardinal, and praised Benedict for his service to the Church, particularly his “deep pastoral care” for survivors of clergy sex abuse. Cardinal O’Malley’s full statement can be read here.
Dec. 31, 8:20 a.m.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the former president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, thanked the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and prayed: “May the angels lead you to paradise.”
"Do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ."
Thank you, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, for pointing us to Christ. May the angels lead you to paradise. https://t.co/EfcFhOaiSU
EWTN is covering the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI live from Rome. Viewers can tune in here:
Dec. 31, 8:01 a.m.
The late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI inspired many with his words on faith, hope, and love. The National Catholic Register’s Alyssa Murphy notes some of his moving reflections here.
Dec. 31, 7:58 a.m.
Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, asked for prayers for the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, saying: “May we give thanks to God for his example and witness and pray for his eternal peace and happiness.”
"I respectfully ask all in the Diocese of Arlington to unite in prayer as we mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. May we give thanks to God for his example and witness and pray for his eternal peace and happiness." — @BishopBurbidgepic.twitter.com/LnyKd9ztOZ
Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, the founder of the Catholic media apostolate Word on Fire, called the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI “one of the most important Catholics in modern times.” He noted his key role as a theological adviser during the Second Vatican Council and his leadership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II.
Friends, Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, was one of the most consequential theologians of the 20th and 21st centuries. His impact on the Church will be remembered long after today. pic.twitter.com/6kgAxWYwV3
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, discussed the legacy of the late pope emeritus with the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin, calling him a “true Doctor of the Church for today.”
The Pontifical Academy for Life called the late pope emeritus “one of the most influential theological personalities of the 20th century, constantly striving to make the faith understandable and reliable for modern man.”
Joe Donnelly, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, issued a statement mourning the loss of Pope Benedict and reflected on his first address from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in which “he set the tone for a papacy by labeling himself as a ‘simple, humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord.’”
“Jill and I join Pope Francis and all the Catholic faithful around the world in mourning the loss of Pope Emeritus...
The faithful can follow Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy as told through photos here.
Dec. 31, 5:24 a.m.
Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement mourning the death of Pope Benedict.
“Throughout his life as a scholar and as a churchman, he showed us what it means to fulfill the ancient command to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind,” he wrote in a tweet.
Today we join Pope Francis and Catholics across the world in mourning the death of Pope Benedict XVI who has gone home to the God he served faithfully. pic.twitter.com/LAmDSyW3IA
The faithful can look back at the key dates and events in the life of Pope Benedict XVI at a timeline located here.
Dec. 31, 4:59 a.m.: Benedict XVI dead at 95: The ‘humble worker’ and his legacy of hope to the Catholic Church
Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005, and took the name Benedict XVI. Eight years later, on Feb. 11, 2013, the 85-year-old shocked the world with the announcement — made in Latin — that he was resigning from the papacy. It was the first resignation of a pope in nearly 600 years. He cited his advanced age and lack of strength as unsuitable for the exercise of his office.
However, the enormous legacy of his theologically profound contributions to the Church and the world will continue to be the source of reflection and study.
Dec. 31, 4:44 a.m.: BREAKING: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at age 95
His death was announced in Rome on Dec. 31. His funeral Mass will be held on Jan. 5, 2023, in St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican said.
The Vatican press office director, Matteo Bruni, said Dec. 31: “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.”
Benedict XVI’s body will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica beginning on Jan. 2, 2023.
Former Washington, D. C., correspondent Katie Yoder covered pro-life issues, the U.S. Catholic bishops, public policy, and Congress for Catholic News Agency. She previously worked for Townhall.com, National Review, and the Media Research Center.
Lauretta Brown is the National Catholic Register’s Washington-based staff writer.
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