The Vatican says the former pope died at his residence in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95, the Vatican announced.

His death on Saturday came days after Pope Francis asked for prayers for his predecessor, who said he was “very ill”.

The Holy See’s press office said Benedict, the first German pope in 1,000 years, died at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, which he had chosen as his residence after discharge in 2013.

The Vatican has remained vague about what was wrong with Benedict, saying only that his deteriorating health was due to his advanced age.

His body would be laid out in St. Peter’s Basilica from Monday, the Vatican said.

For nearly 25 years, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict was the powerful head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Conservatives in the church have looked to the former pope as their standard bearer and some ultra-traditionalists have even refused to recognize Francis as a legitimate pope.

They have criticized Francis for his more welcoming approach to members of the LGBTQ+ community and to Catholics divorcing and remarrying outside the church, saying both undermined traditional values.

Alberto Tonini, a historian at the University of Florence, told Al Jazeera that Benedict was more influential as a scholar and theologian than as a leader.

“He was not very comfortable speaking in front of a large audience or acting as a political leader. He was a thinker, a philosopher – and he continued his (scientific) activities during the eight years of his papacy,” said Tonini.


Like his predecessor John Paul, Benedict made reaching out to Jews a hallmark of his papacy. His first official act as pope was a letter to Rome’s Jewish community, and he became the second pope in history, after John Paul, to enter a synagogue.

In his 2011 book, Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict argued for a sweeping acquittal of the Jewish people for the death of Christ, explaining biblically and theologically why there was no basis in scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole are responsible was before Jesus’ death. dead.

As pope, however, he also came under fire for a series of public relations controversies and a perceived lack of charisma.

Pope Benedict XVI looks on during his visit to Rome's main synagogue
Pope Benedict XVI looks on during his visit to Rome’s main synagogue in 2010 [File: Osservatore Romano/Reuters]

Most importantly, an ever-growing number of victims spoke out their abusemostly as a child, at the hands of priests, he was criticized for failing to act decisively to end the Church’s cover-ups.

Prior to his election as pope, Benedict led the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, once known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition, giving him ultimate responsibility to research cases of abuse.

He became the first pope to apologize for the scandals that surfaced around the world, expressing “deep remorse” and meeting the victims in person.

In 2010, he admitted that the church “did not act quickly or forcefully enough to take the necessary action” on a matter that had seriously tarnished its image.

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