German theologian and philosopher Joseph Ratzinger, who was head of the Roman Catholic Church for eight years as Pope Benedict XVI has passed on at the age of 95.
The late pontiff died after a prolonged ailment. Pope Benedict XVI who tried to reawaken Christianity in a secularised Europe will forever be remembered as the first in 600 years to resign from the position.
On February 11, 2013, Benedict shocked the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church that he had steered for eight years that he no longer had the strength to hold the saddle.
His sudden decision paved the way for the election of Pope Francis as his successor.
The two popes then lived side-by-side in the Vatican gardens, an unprecedented arrangement that set the stage for future “popes emeritus” to do the same.
The Holy See press office through its spokesperson Matteo Bruni said on Saturday morning that: “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 released as soon as possible.”
Benedict’s remains would be on public display in St. Peter’s Basilica starting Monday for the faithful to pay their last homage.
The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had never wished to be pope, he planned to commit himself to writing in ‘peace and quiet’ of his native Bavaria.
He was however forced to follow the footsteps of the beloved St. John Paul II and run the church through the fallout of numerous clerical sex abuse scandal and then a second scandal that erupted when his own butler stole his personal papers and gave them to a reporter.
He once described the feelong he had having been elected pope as if a “guillotine” had come down on him. He however set about the job with a single-minded vision to rekindle the faith in a world that, he frequently lamented, seemed to think it could do without God.
“In vast areas of the world today, there is a strange forgetfulness of God,” he told hundreds of thousands of people gathered during his first foreign trip as pope, to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, in 2005.
He set the Catholic Church on a conservative, tradition-minded path that often alienated progressives.
He adjusted the restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass and launched a crackdown on American nuns, insisting that the church stay true to its doctrine and traditions in the face of a challenging world.