A former Roman Catholic Pope, Joseph Alois Ratzinger, is dead.
The Pontiff died on December 31 at his residence at Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae at the age of 95, Vatic news said in a tweet.
“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,” the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni, said.
Benedict, a German, was the pope between 2005 and 2013 when he resigned. He was known as Benedict XVI while in office after succeeding Pope John Paul.
He was the first pope to resign since 1415 when Gregory XII quit the position.
Before he died, Benedict was living at Mater Ecclesiae Monastery within the Vatican.
The Vatican says he will be buried on January 5 and he will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from January 2 for “the greeting of the faithful.”
His successor and incumbent, Pope Francis has described Benedict as a noble and kind man.
“We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind and we feel such gratitude in our hearts, gratitude to God for giving him to the church, and to the world.
“Gratitude to him for all the good he accompanied and above all for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last four years of his life. Only God knows the value of his sacrifices for the good of the church,” Pope Francis said while leading a traditional vespers ceremony ahead of New Year’s Day.
Francis had earlier gone to see Benedict shortly after he passed away.
Few days before Benedict died, Francis had asked the faithful to pray for his predecessor, saying he was “very sick.”
Bruni said Benedict’s funeral will be held on January 5 in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City at 9.30 am local time and that it will be led by Pope Francis. He said the funeral will be “simple” in line with the wish of the departed pope.
Benedict was born in 1927 to a policeman. In 1951, he was ordained as a priest and by 1977, he was made a cardinal. He was to serve as chief theological adviser to Pope John Paul II.
Benedict was elected pope in April 2005 but shocked the world when on February 11, 2013 he resigned the position, citing “advanced age.”
When he resigned, Benedict promised, in his address, to stay “hidden” from the world. He hardly kept to the promise.
Meanwhile, world leaders have been paying tributes to the late pope since his demise.
President Joe Biden of the United States, who is a Catholic, said Benedict would be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the church, guided by his principles and faith.”
“I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He was a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was a historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said.
Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, in his tribute, described the pope as “a staunch defender of traditional Christian values.”
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said the late Pontiff would be remembered as a true servant of God.
He said Benedict used his benevolent gifts of the Almighty upon his life to serve the church and humanity in humility, reverence and piety, living in word and deed the virtues of a true Christian disciple.