Former Pope Benedict XVI dies aged 95 nine years after stepping down as Catholic Church leader | The Sun

FORMER Pope Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95.

The ex-head of the Catholic Church resigned as pontiff in February 2013 – the first pope to retire in 600 years.



Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed Benedict died on Saturday morning.

He said: "With pain I inform that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in the Vatican

"Further information will be provided as soon as possible."

The Vatican said Benedict's body will lie in state from Monday in St Peter's Basilica.

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It comes just days after Pope Francis said his predecessor was "very sick" as he called for prayers during his final audience of the year at the Vatican.

Benedict was born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany and he served as the head of the Church and the sovereign of the Vatican City State from 2005 until his resignation in 2013.

After that, he lived in the Vatican.

Benedict became increasingly frail in recent years as he dedicated his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.

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Back in 2013, he cited his declining physical and mental health in his decision to become the first pope since 1415 to give up the job as head of the Catholic church.

He announced in Latin that he was resigning, telling cardinals he was too old and frail to lead an institution with more than 1.3 billion members.

In his resignation letter, he said: "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."

In 2020, Benedict visited the UK and was greeted by the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

He and the late monarch shared a "great affinity”, according to the head ofthe Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols told Times Radio: "I think there was a great affinity between Pope Benedict and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

"When Benedict decided to come to this country, he decided that the first thing he had to do was visit the Queen.

"And she was 95, she held her office to the end and I think he admired that very much.

“It was a measure of his self-understanding and the difficulties he was getting into physically as well that he said no, it needs somebody else to do this.”

Paying tribute to Benedict following his death, Cardinal Nichols said he was "one of the great theologians of the 20th century".

He said: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict. He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century.

"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."

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"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.

"Pope Benedict is very much in my heart and in my prayers. I give thanks to God for his ministry and leadership."



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