By Kenneth Enadeghe
Just after the season of Christmas and as we prepare to witness a new year, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95, bringing to a close the momentous life of a Churchman who proclaimed the “eternal joy” of Jesus Christ and called himself a “humble worker” in the vineyard of the Lord.
His death was announced in Rome on Saturday, 31st Dec.
He was a ‘humble worker’ and his legacy of hope to the Catholic Church will forever remain untainted.
Notably, 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.
As a matter of fact, long before his election as pope, Ratzinger exerted a lasting influence on the modern Church, first as a young theologian at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) and later as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith.
An articulate defender of Catholic teaching, he coined the term “dictatorship of relativism” to describe secularism’s increasing intolerance of religious belief in the 21st century.
Interestingly, he was the first pope to resign from office in almost 600 years. He traveled from Vatican City to Castel Gandolfo by helicopter on Feb. 28, 2013, and took up life in retirement the following May in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Gardens of the Vatican City State.
And the Holy See Press Office announced that the 95-year-old Pope died at 9:34 am in his residence at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on Saturday.
He had chosen the Ecclesiae Monastery as his residence after resigning from the Petrine ministry in 2013.
“With sorrow, I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 AM in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible. As of Monday morning, 2 January 2023, the body of the Pope Emeritus will be in Saint Peter’s Basilica so the faithful can bid farewell,” Vatican News quoted the official statement.
Sadly, for days, the Pope’s health had worsened due to advancing age, as the Press Office had reported in its updates on the evolving situation.
Pope Francis himself publicly shared the news about his predecessor’s worsening health at the end of the last General Audience of the year Dec. 28.
Of course, he had invited people to pray for Pope Emeritus, who he said was very ill, so the Lord might console him and support him “in this witness of love for the Church until the end.”
And following this invitation, prayer initiatives sprung up and multiplied on all continents, along with an outpouring of messages of solidarity and closeness from secular leaders.
Funeral plans will be announced in the next few hours by the Holy See Press Office.
Also, he was known for his love of music — he played Mozart and Beethoven on the piano — as well as cats, Christmas cookies, and occasional draughts of German beer. The late pope was also renowned for his gentleness, courtesy, and for being a true child of Bavaria.