Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned for the first time in 600 years, dies at 95

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the shy German theologian who tried to revive Christianity in secular Europe, died Saturday. he was 95 years old.

Benedict announced on February 11, 2013, in typical soft-spoken Latin, that he no longer had the power to run the 1.2 billion strong Catholic Church that had operated for eight years through scandal and scandal. , surprised the world. Indifferent.

His dramatic decision paved the way for a conclave that elected Pope Francis as his successor. The two Popes then lived side by side in the Vatican Gardens. This was an unprecedented arrangement that set the stage for future “Honorary Popes” to do the same.

A statement Saturday morning from Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said: Further information will be published as soon as possible. “

The Vatican said Benedict’s body will be displayed to the public in St. Peter’s Basilica from Monday for believers to pay their last respects.

Former Cardinal Josef Ratzinger never aspired to be pope and at age 78 planned to spend his final years writing in a “peaceful and quiet” place in his native Bavaria.

Instead, he was forced to follow in the footsteps of his beloved St. John Paul II, forced to run a church affected by a clerical sex-abuse scandal. journalist.

When he was elected pope, he once said it felt like a “guillotine” had befallen him.

Nevertheless, he often wailed and set out to work with a single-minded vision to rekindle his faith in a world he seemed to think could be done without God.

“Today, in vast areas of the world, we see a strange oblivion to God,” said the Pope on his first overseas trip as Pope for World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, in 2005, gathering in vast fields. He spoke to one million young people. Everything seems the same without him.

In some decisive and often controversial moves, he sought to remind Europe of its Christian heritage. And he led the Catholic Church down a conservative, traditionalist path, often alienating progressives. He eased restrictions on celebrating the Old Latin Mass, initiated a crackdown on nuns in America, and insisted that the church remain true to its doctrines and traditions in the face of a changing world. It was a path that was reversed by his successor, Francis.

Benedict’s style was very different from that of John Paul or Francis. Benedict was neither a globetrotting media darling nor a populist, but a teacher, a theologian, and a scholar at heart. He spoke in paragraphs, not words. He had a weakness for orange Fanta and his beloved library. When he was elected Pope, he moved his entire study from an apartment just outside the walls of the Vatican to the Apostolic Palace. The book took him to a nursing home.

“All of them have my advisors,” he said of his book in a 2010 book-length interview, “The Light of the World.” “I know every corner and everything has a history.”

Benedict’s devotion to history and tradition endeared him to members of the traditionalist sect of the Catholic Church. For them, Benedict remained a beacon of nostalgia for Orthodoxy and the Latin Mass of his youth after his retirement.

In time, this major conservative group, whose grievances were amplified by the sympathetic US-based conservative Catholic media, threatened to split by imposing restrictions on the old Latin language, he said. would be a major source of opposition to Francis in response. The mass that Benedict loosened.

Like his predecessor John Paul, Benedict made it a pope’s hallmark to reach out to the Jews. His first official act as pope was a letter to the Jewish community in Rome, making him the second pope in history to enter a synagogue after John Paul.

In his 2011 book, Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict thoroughly exonerated the Jews for Christ’s death and explained, biblically and theologically, why there is no biblical basis for the argument that all Jews are responsible. Did. Death of Jesus.

“It’s very clear that Benedict is a true friend of the Jews,” said Rabbi David Rosen, who will head the Interfaith Relations Office of the American Jewish Commission at the time of Benedict’s retirement.

But Benedict also outraged some Jews for his constant defense and promotion of Pope Pius XII, a World War II-era Pope who was accused of failing to condemn the Holocaust enough. I pissed you off. And they severely criticized Benedict when he removed the excommunication of a traditionalist British bishop who denied the Holocaust.

Benedict’s relationship with the Islamic world was also complicated. He delivered a speech in his September 2006—his September 2006, five years after his September 11th attacks in the United States—that angered Muslims. To spread the faith “by the sword”.

Subsequent comments after the massacre of Christians in Egypt led the Al-Azhar Center in Cairo, home of Sunni Muslim learning, to suspend ties with the Vatican, which was restored only under Francis. rice field.

The Vatican under Benedict was plagued with notorious public relations missteps, and sometimes Benedict himself was blamed. In 2009, he enraged the United Nations and several European governments when he told reporters on his way to Africa that distributing condoms would not solve the AIDS problem.

“On the contrary, it adds to the problem,” Benedict said. A year later, he published a revised version, stating that male prostitutes’ use of condoms to keep HIV from passing on to their partners could be a first step toward more responsible sexuality. rice field.

But Benedict’s legacy was irreversibly colored by the global eruption of the 2010 sexual abuse scandal.

According to documents, the Vatican was well aware of the issue, but for decades it had turned a blind eye, sometimes rejecting bishops who tried to do the right thing.

Benedict had first-hand knowledge of the extent of the problem, as his former office, the Ministry of Doctrine, which he headed since 1982, was responsible for handling abuse cases.

In fact, in 2001, before he became pope, he handled these cases after realizing that bishops around the world were not punishing abusers, but simply moving them from parish to parish. It was he who made the then revolutionary decision to take responsibility for I can rape you again.

And once he became Pope, Benedict essentially reversed his beloved predecessor, John Paul, by taking action against the 20th century’s most notorious pedophile priest, the Reverend Martial Maciel. . Benedict took over Maciel’s Legionaries of Christ after it was revealed that Maciel had sexually abused a seminarian and fathered at least three of his children.

After his retirement, Benedict was accused by independent reports of dealing with four priests while he was bishop of Munich. He denied any personal wrongdoing, but apologized for the “grave mistake.”

As soon as the Benedict abuse scandal calmed down, another one erupted.

In October 2012, Benedict’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted of aggravated theft after Vatican police discovered a cache of papal documents in his apartment. Gabriele told Vatican investigators that the Pope had not been informed of the Vatican’s “evil and corruption” and believed that publicly exposing it would put the church on the right track, hence the genre of Italian journalists. He said he gave the document to Izi Nuzzi.

Once the “Vatilieks” scandal was resolved, including Gabriele’s papal pardon, Benedict felt free to make the extraordinary decisions he had previously alluded to. Almost 6th century.

“After examining my conscience many times before God, I am convinced that my strengths due to old age no longer meet my demands as Pope,” he told the Cardinal.

He made his last public appearance in February 2013 before taking a helicopter ride to the Pope’s summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, where he sat privately in the conclave. Afterwards, Benedict largely kept his promise to lead a life of prayer after his retirement, only occasionally coming out of his converted convent for special occasions, and occasionally writing prefaces and messages to his books.

Normally they were harmless, but a 2020 book in which Benedict defended celibate priests when Francis was considering exceptions prompted a future “Honorary Pope” to demand that he remain silent. .

Despite his very different styles and priorities, Francis has frequently said that having a Benedict in the Vatican was like having a “wise grandfather” living at home.

Benedict was often misunderstood. Nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler” by the unsympathetic media, Benedict was actually a very kind, fiercely clever scholar who dedicated his life to serving his beloved church.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s long-time deputy, said in one of his last public functions as Pope, “Thank you for setting the glorious example of a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.” told to

When Benedict was elected the Church’s 265th leader on April 19, 2005, he inherited the seemingly impossible task of following in John Paul’s footsteps. He was the oldest pope elected in his 275 years, nearly making him the first German in 1,000 years.

Born on April 16, 1927 in Marktor am Inn, Bavaria, Benedict wrote in his memoirs that in 1941 he joined the Nazi youth movement against his will. He deserted from the German army in April 1945, at the end of the war.

Benedict was ordained in 1951 with his brother Georg. After teaching theology in Germany for several years, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal by Pope Paul VI three months later.

Until his death in 2020, his brother Georg was a frequent visitor to the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. His sister died several years ago. His “papal family” was consecrated to Monsignor his Georg his Genswein, his long-time private secretary who was always by his side, another secretary of his, and the caretaker of the Pope’s apartment. It was made up of women.