Former Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95

0
248

Former Pope Benedict XVI has died at his Vatican residence, aged 95, almost a decade after he stood down because of ailing health.

He led the Catholic Church for less than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

Benedict spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican.

His successor Pope Francis said he had visited him there frequently.

The Vatican said in a statement: “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.

“Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”

The Vatican said the body of the Pope Emeritus will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from 2 January for “the greeting of the faithful”.

Plans for Pope Benedict’s funeral will be announced in the next few hours, the Vatican said.

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said Pope Benedict was “one of the great theologians of the 20th century”.

In a statement he said: “I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”

“He was through and through a gentleman, through and through a scholar, through and through a pastor, through and through a man of God – close to the Lord and always his humble servant.”

Although the former pontiff had been ill for some time, Vatican authorities said there had been an aggravation in his condition because of advancing age.