Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic World News

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at 95

December 31, 2022

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who led the universal Church from his election in 2005 until his stunning resignation in 2013, died on December 31 at the age of 95.

“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 [3:34 AM Eastern time] in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, announced on December 31.

Born in 1927 in Marktl am Inn in Bavaria (Germany), Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a deacon of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising in 1950 and a priest the following year.

After an academic career that included service as a peritus (expert) at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the beginning of a substantial corpus of written works, and teaching at universities in Bonn, Münster, Tübingen, and Regensburg, Pope St. Paul VI named him Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. He was created a cardinal later that year.

In November 1981, Pope St. John Paul II appointed Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and his work as Munich’s archbishop ended in February 1982. In 1998, he became Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, and in 2002 Dean of the College of Cardinals.

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger was responsible for over 70 documents that clarified the teaching of the Church and addressed the writings of erring theologians. He was concurrently President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission; he also chaired the commission that drafted the Catechism of the Catholic Church. His work as Prefect ceased in 2005, with the death of Pope St. John Paul II.

Elected the 264th Successor of St. Peter on April 19, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI was installed five days later. As the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI

  • wrote three encyclicals on Christian love, Christian hope, and integral human development in charity and truth
  • wrote four post-synodal apostolic exhortations on the Eucharist, the Word of God, the Church in Africa, and the Church in the Middle East
  • wrote apostolic letters in which he recalled the 700th anniversary of the death of Blessed John Duns Scotus, sought to reconcile the Society of St. Pius X to full communion with the Church, established the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and proclaimed St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Ávila as Doctors of the Church
  • issued an apostolic constitution providing for personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church
  • issued letters motu proprio (at his own initiative) by which he promulgated the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, broadened the celebration of the pre-1970 Roman liturgy, established the Pontifical Academy for Latin, and modified the procedures for electing a new Pope
  • devoted his series of Wednesday general audiences to the Psalms, the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, St. Paul, leading medieval figures, the later Doctors of the Church, prayer, faith, and the Creed
  • declared the Year of St. Paul (2008-09), the Year of the Priest (2009-10), and the Year of Faith (2012-13)

For most of his reign, Pope Benedict presided over the surge in priestly vocations that began under the leadership of Pope St. John Paul II (1978-2005). The number of major seminarians worldwide rose from 63,882 in 1978 to 110,553 in 2000, far outstripping the rate of growth in world population; the number of seminarians peaked at 120,616 in 2011. Over the decade that followed, the number of seminarians fell to 111,855.

Pope Benedict announced his resignation on February 11, 2013, effective on February 28 of that year. Since his resignation, he has had the title of Pope Emeritus and lived in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.

Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, announced that Pope Benedict’s body will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica beginning on Monday, January 2. Pope Francis will preside at the funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday, January 5, at 9:30 Rome time (3:30 AM Eastern time).

Bruno added that “Benedict specifically asked that everything—including the funeral—be marked by simplicity, just as he lived his life.”

Later in the day, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published in Italian an extraordinary 16-page edition in honor of the late Pontiff, with the front-page headline, “Today, 31 December, at 9:34, the Lord has called to Himself the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.”


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.