JAKARTA, IO – As if leaving a blessing on his way out, His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away on New Year’s Eve, Saturday 31 December 2022, at the age of 95, nearly a decade after he has from his office for health reasons. In his final years, he lived in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, within the Vatican complex.
The peaceful death was a sort of response to the prayers requested by Pope Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, for the former’s health and healing late last year. As tearfully acknowledged in the Vatican’s official announcement of death, it was a hard loss to bear: “It is with sorrow I inform you that His Holiness, the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 a.m. in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. We will provide further information as quickly as possible,” the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni, said.
Pope Benedict XVI was elected to his office in April 2005, at the Papal Conclave held after the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The Conclave was attended by the 115 Cardinals with voting rights to elect a new Pope. He led the Catholic Church for only a bit more than seven years, becoming the first Pope to resign in 2013 after Gregory XII’s 1415 resignation.
It was no surprise that the Pope Emeritus chose to resign. After all, Benedict was 78 when he was ordained Pope in 2005. Born Joseph Alois Ratzinger on 16 April 1927 in Germany, he was one of the oldest Popes ever elected. During most of his papacy, the Catholic Church faced multiple lawsuits, legal charges, and official reports concerning the sexual harassment of children by priests over several decades, that only recently came to light. In fact, early last year, the Pope Emeritus had to admit to mishandling and mismanagement of these harassment cases during his tenure as the Archbishop of Munich and Freising (1977-1982).