Pope Benedict XVI has died at his residence in the Vatican after an extended illness. He was 95.
Benedict, who was born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, led the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, when he resigned due to ill health. He was the first pope to do so since 1415.
The former pope, who upheld the Church’s views on issues such as abortion and contraception, was portrayed on screen by Anthony Hopkins in the 2019 film “The Two Popes,” a fictional account that depicted the relationship between Benedict and his successor, the current Pope Francis (who was played by Jonathan Pryce), as Benedict looked to step down from the role.
The Vatican said in a statement on Saturday: “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 Vatican confirmed that the pope’s body will be at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome from Monday (Jan. 2) for “the greeting of the faithful.” At press time, plans for his funeral had not yet been released.
During the pope’s 8-year reign, the Catholic Church faced allegations and official reports of child abuse by priests. Benedict himself was accused of failing to act over child sexual abuse when he served as archbishop of Munich. He asked for forgiveness from the victims earlier this year, but never admitted to any wrongdoing.
“I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness,” Benedict said in a statement in February 2022.
“I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate.”