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Church in Mourning Over Benedict XVI: Live Updates From the Vatican…

Church in Mourning Over Benedict XVI: Live Updates From the Vatican…

Updates will be added by Katie Yoder/CNA, Lauretta Brown/Register and CNA and Register staff.

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

The Vatican made the announcement of his death at 10:30 am Rome time on Dec. 31 in a short statement translated into several languages.

“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,” Vatican press office director Matteo Bruni said. “Further information will be provided as soon as possible.” 

The Vatican added that from Jan. 2, the body of the Pope Emeritus will rest in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican “for the faithful to bid farewell.” 

Bruni later told reporters in a short press briefing that Benedict XVI’s funeral will be celebrated by Pope Francis at 9.30 on Thursday, Jan. 5, in St Peter’s Square and disclosed that the Pope Emeritus received last rites on Wednesday afternoon after the Holy Mass.

Please see below for regular updates following the death of the Pope Emeritus. All times are CET.

18.51

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, the former archbishop of Denver who served Pope Benedict as major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary from 2005 to 2009, noted, “Pope Benedict XVI was dedicated to the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth. He wrote about Jesus, ‘Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father.’ This was the climactic teaching of the Holy Father in one of his last publications, the trilogy, Jesus of Nazareth.”

“In afternoon walks in the Vatican Gardens I sometimes encountered Pope Benedict,” he added. “I thought that here was a true disciple ‘who walks with Jesus and is thus caught up with Him into communion with God.’ May he rest in peace! “

16:47

Patrick Kelly, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, said, “Today, with over 2 million brother Knights of Columbus around the world, I join Pope Francis and the whole Church in mourning the loss of a great and holy priest and teacher — our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.”

“The late Pope, who attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as a priest, theological expert and advisor, went on to serve for nearly a quarter century as Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II, before himself leading the Church as the Vicar of Christ,” Kelly said. “As we continue to be confirmed and strengthened by Pope Benedict’s teachings about the eternal truths of our faith, Knights of Columbus throughout the world join in prayer for the repose of his soul.”

15.21

The president of the US bishops’ conference, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, has issued the following reflection on the Pope Emeritus:

“The passing from this life of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, sounds contrasting notes of sorrow and gratitude in my heart.

“The Church gives thanks for the treasured ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. A superb theologian who lent his talents as a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, he continued throughout his long life to be an effective teacher of the faith. As a priest, university professor and theologian, archbishop, and cardinal, his voice in deepening an authentic understanding led all of us to a more profound love of truth and the mystery of God. It will take many years for us to delve more deeply into the wealth of learning that he has left us.

“Personally, I remember many meetings with him while I served in the Secretariat of State, and I will never forget his greeting to me at the first General Audience I attended some weeks after his election to the Chair of Peter. “Ci conosciamo” (we know each other) were his warm words of welcome as he took my hand between his.

“We all remember how he shocked the world in 2013 by announcing his plan to resign from his responsibilities as the Bishop of Rome, and in doing so, he continued his teaching about courage, humility, and love for the Church. He recognized the great demands made of him as the chief shepherd of the Universal Church of a billion Catholics worldwide, and his physical limitations for such a monumental task. Even in retirement, retreating to live out a life in quiet prayer and study, he continued to teach us how to be a true disciple of Christ, while still contributing to his legacy.

“Generations will continue to be enriched by his books, discourses, and homilies. They all reveal a depth of learning and reflection that is essential both in our time and in the future.

“While we grieve that he is no longer with us here, I join Catholics everywhere in offering my profound gratitude to the Lord for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI and his ministry. Together we beg our Lord to grant him eternal rest.”

14.55

In a lengthy tribute in La Civilta Cattolica, Benedict XVI’s former spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi recalls the ups and downs of his pontificate, concluding that the legacy the Pope Emeritus leaves us “is that characteristic of a theologian called to the See of Peter, who confirmed his brethren in the faith through teaching, sacramental service and the witness of life.”

14.04:

“What a great great feast for Benedict XVI to depart,” tweeted Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg. “Saint Pope Sylvester, fighter of Arianism, Council of Nicea, Pope under Constantine the Great, overseeing the building of Papal Cathedrals. Ending a year and an epoch.”

13.53:

Italy’s bishops’ conference has recalled how Benedict’s life was “based on love” which was “a reflection of his relationship with God and, in the last stretch of his life, he made this relationship with the Lord visible by keeping silence. 

“We thank the Lord for the gift of his life and his service to the Church: an exemplary testimony of that incessant search for the face of the Lord (Ps 27:8), which today he can finally contemplate face to face (1 Cor 13:12).

“The Church in Italy, in particular, is grateful to him for the impetus given to the new evangelization.”

13.27:

The Pontifical Academy for Life has issued a statement saying it “shares in the Church’s grief over the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“Remembering his service ‘in the vineyard of the Lord,’ we remember him as one of the most influential theological personalities of the twentieth century, constantly striving to make the faith understandable and dependable for modern man.

“The Lord, Master of life, whom he called ‘friend and brother, good judge,’ now welcomes him into His house.”

The statement was signed by the academy’s president, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and its chancellor, Msgr. Renzo Pegoraro. 

13.20:

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, 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.

“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.”

13.17:

The Council of European Bishops’ Conferences has issued a statement saying that it “joins the prayers of the whole world in suffrage for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died today at the age of 95.

The President of the CCEE, H.E. Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, recalled in particular the “European magisterium that Benedict XVI developed during his pontificate, emphasizing the importance of Europe’s Christian roots and highlighting a necessary return to Christ and to the evangelization for the construction of a civilization of love.”

13.09

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who served as Promoter of Justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict, stated, “We commend our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (1927-2022) to the mercy of the Good Shepherd, in gratitude for a life spent for the Church in humble, wise and good humored service. Requiescat in pace!”

13.08:

Bruni: “Going along with the wish of the Pope Emeritus, the funeral will be held under the banner of simplicity.” 

10.45: 

Benedict XVI’s long-serving private secretary, Archbishp Georg Gänswein, issued this statement this morning to The Tagespost Foundation

“Papa emerito said to me and to all those who accompanied him in his last hours, “Please pray for me!” – I would like to pass on this request of the Pope Emeritus to all those whom his death touches.

For myself, his death means a great and personal loss. I am deeply grateful and at the same time very sad.” 

A digital book of condolence is now available here via The Tagespost Foundation

***

All times below are in U.S. Eastern Standard Time:

Dec. 31, 1:15pm

In his first public comments since the pope emeritus’ death, Pope Francis gave thanks for the good works and sacrifices of Benedict XVI.

“My thought naturally goes to dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who left us this morning. We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind,” Pope Francis said at a prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“We feel such gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world; gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his recollected life. Only God knows the value and the power of his intercession, of the sacrifices he offered for the good of the Church,” said Francis.

Read more here.

Dec. 31, 1:06pm

President Joe Biden, a Catholic, responded to the former pope’s death in a White House press release, calling him “a renowned theologian” and “an inspiration to us all.”

“Jill and I join Catholics around the world, and so many others, in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I had the privilege of spending time with Pope Benedict at the Vatican in 2011 and will always remember his generosity and welcome as well as our meaningful conversation,” the president said.

“He will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith. As he remarked during his 2008 visit to the White House, ‘the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity.’ May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all,” said Biden.

Dec. 31, 12:30pm

The Vatican announced that Benedict XVI will be buried in the crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica.

The tombs in the Vatican crypt are close to the remains of the Catholic Church’s first pope, St. Peter the Apostle.

Read more here.

Dec. 31, 12:19pm

Former representative Dan Lipinski of Illinois, a Catholic Democrat, expressed his admiration for the former pope and called for all to pray for his soul.

“Let us pray for the soul of Pope Benedict XVI. He was a brilliant teacher who warned each of us of the “dictatorship of relativism,” Lipinski said.

Lipinski also called to mind Benedict XVI’s 2008, trip to Washington, D.C., calling it “very special.”

Dec. 31, 11:19am

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences on behalf of the Israeli people to the “Christian world.”

In a tweet, Netanyahu remembered Benedict “as a true friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Dec. 31, 10:55am

Cardinal Raymond Burke reflected on the life and papacy of Benedict and said that he was grateful to serve the late pope as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

“In my meetings with him, while he was still Roman Pontiff and after his abdication, I was always impressed by his extraordinary intelligence and knowledge, coupled with Christ-like meekness,” Burke said. His full statement can be read here.  

Dec. 31, 10:36am

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York issued a statement mourning the loss of Benedict, who raised him to the level of a cardinal in 2012. Dolan asked that each of his parishes offer Mass for the repose of Benedict’s soul “and in thanksgiving for his vocation as Successor of St. Peter.”

Cardinal Dolan’s full statement can be read here.

Dec. 31, 9:56am

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco tweeted his remembrance of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as a “loving pastor” who would want the faithful to pray for the repose of his soul.

Dec. 31, 9:50am

World leaders have been sending their condolences over the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, including European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, who tweeted, “Europe mourns him. May he rest in peace.”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called the late pope emeritus “a giant of faith and reason.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and King Charles III have also voiced their condolences. 

Dec. 31, 9:40am

Peter Kilpatrick, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., mourned the death of Benedict and praised him for his inspirational teachings on the Catholic faith.

“A lifelong educator, Benedict sought to help the faithful rededicate themselves to worship and to stand in awe of God. At the same time, he also wanted the faithful to understand well the primacy of love (charity) in the life of the Christian and how they could share that love of Christ with others,” Kilpatrick wrote. His full statement can be read here.

Dec. 31, 9:15 am: Reflection of USCCB President on Death of Pope Benedict XVI

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a reflection on the pope emeritus:

“The passing from this life of Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, sounds contrasting notes of sorrow and gratitude in my heart.

“The Church gives thanks for the treasured ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. A superb theologian who lent his talents as a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, he continued throughout his long life to be an effective teacher of the faith. As a priest, university professor and theologian, archbishop, and cardinal, his voice in deepening an authentic understanding led all of us to a more profound love of truth and the mystery of God. It will take many years for us to delve more deeply into the wealth of learning that he has left us.

“Personally, I remember many meetings with him while I served in the Secretariat of State, and I will never forget his greeting to me at the first General Audience I attended some weeks after his election to the Chair of Peter. ‘Ci conosciamo’ (we know each other) were his warm words of welcome as he took my hand between his.”

You can read the full reflection here.

Dec. 31, 8:55am

Catholics and people worldwide are invited to “offer your condolences, express your gratitude for the life and work of Pope Benedict XVI, and join with the faithful from all over the world in prayer for the deceased pontiff” online at a website dedicated to late pope emeritus located here. Each person is asked to leave his or her name and email address along with a personal message.

The website, www.BenedictusXVI.com, is run by the Tagespost Foundation.

Dec. 31, 8:28am

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston reflected on the late pope, who made him a Cardinal, and praised Benedict for his service to the church, particularly his “deep pastoral care” for survivors of clergy sex abuse. Cardinal O’Malley’s full statement can be read here.

Dec. 31, 8:20am

Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the former president of the U.S. bishops, thanked the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and prayed “May the angels lead you to paradise.”

 ***

Upon hearing of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Archbishop Samuel Aquila is asking for prayers. “Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who served the Church courageously for so many years. May he rest in the peace of Christ.”

***

“While I’m saddened by the news of his passing, I consider myself fortunate to have had several opportunities over the decades to meet Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The first time was in the early 2000s when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Years later, after he appointed me as Archbishop of Milwaukee, I received the Pallium from Pope Benedict in Rome. In 2012, I and hundreds of other U.S. bishops met with him during the USCCB’s Ad Limina visit to the Vatican. 

“I always found Pope Benedict to be quite gracious and humble, despite being the pontiff and the greatest theologian of the century. May he now rest in peace.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. 

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki

Archdiocese of Milwaukee

***

“With the priests, deacons, consecrated religious, and all of the faithful of the Diocese of Paterson, I mourn the passing of the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Renowned as a theologian, architect of Vatican II theology, pastor, and ultimately Successor of Peter, Benedict XVI is one of the most consequential leaders of the Church in the late twentieth and first two decades of the twenty-first centuries. Benedict’s contribution will remain a living guide to holiness as his faith inspires and his great theological works are studied,” said Bishop Kevin J. Sweeney of the Diocese of Paterson in northern New Jersey. 

“The most impactful gift of the Petrine Ministry of Benedict XVI will ever be the unwavering witness of his lived faith and humble trust in God’s will. In his 2007 Homily for Christmas, Benedict XVI reflected: “Heaven does not belong to the geography of space, but to the geography of the heart. And the heart of God, during the Holy Night, stooped down to the stable: the humility of God is Heaven. And if we approach this humility, then we touch Heaven. Then the Earth too is made new.” Benedict XVI lifted hearts toward love of God through his faith and his humble service. Benedict XVI served as Bishop of Rome, holding fast to the confession of Peter’s faith in Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). God give him the reward of his goodness.

“We commend the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, to the mercy of God, confident that the Queen of heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, will intercede for him and that Saint Joseph, his baptismal patron, will be his heavenly companion. Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen.”

A Diocesan Memorial Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be held on Monday, Jan. 2, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Paterson at 12:30pm. Bishop Sweeney will preside over the Mass and has invited the priests of the diocese to concelebrate with him. All the faithful are invited to attend.

***

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, write:

“He appointed me a bishop, and for that I will always be grateful. It was January 2009, almost 14 years ago, when I received the call from the papal nuncio informing me that Pope Benedict would like me to be the next bishop of Knoxville. For that reason, I will always feel a special connection to this pope. As pope and pope emeritus, he was a kind and gentle shepherd. I join everyone in the Diocese of Knoxville in praying for peace, comfort, and eternal rest for Pope Benedict XVI.”

Cardinal Justin Rigali reflected:

“I had the privilege of knowing Pope Benedict for many years, going back to his time as a cardinal of the Church– Cardinal Ratzinger. I have always admired his expertise in terms of theology and understanding the Church. He was an excellent theologian and will be remembered as a theologian. 

It was a privilege to participate in the election of Pope Benedict. I can remember when I went up to the pope and knelt before him to show my respect and offer to him my pledge to be faithful and obedient, the first thing that Pope Benedict said to me was, Happy Birthday, your eminence. It was my 70th birthday. Pope Benedict remembered that, and that is a memory I will always carry with me.”

***

A Statement from Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, Maine, on the Passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

The passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is a great sadness for the universal Church and a personal loss for me and countless others who benefited from his great faith, intelligence, and kindness. He served for over seven decades as a priest and nearly eight years as the Successor to St. Peter. His contributions to theology are extraordinary, including the creation of many conciliar documents, and even as his health declined in recent years, he continued to teach of the sacredness of life.  

I worked with Benedict when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during his long tenure as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Vatican City. He knew that faith is entrusting oneself to Jesus and being conformed to his very life of love, and to believe is to enter into that love. Pope Benedict taught that holiness was charity lived to the full and that being a Christian “is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Pope Benedict XVI spent his life educating those he encountered on the truth that Jesus is the one who reveals God’s love to each of us. A beautiful sentiment he shared in his homily at the Easter Vigil in 2011 has always stuck with me and informs on how faith-filled he was:

“The sweep of history established by God reaches back to the origins, back to creation. Our profession of faith begins with the words: ‘We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.’ If we omit the beginning of the Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small. The Church is not some kind of association that concerns itself with man’s religious needs but is limited to that objective. No, she brings man into contact with God and thus with the source of all things. Therefore, we relate to God as Creator, and so we have a responsibility for creation. Our responsibility extends as far as creation because it comes from the Creator. Only because God created everything can he give us life and direct our lives. Life in the Church’s faith involves more than a set of feelings and sentiments and perhaps moral obligations. It embraces man in his entirety, from his origins to his eternal destiny. Only because creation belongs to God can we place ourselves completely in his hands. And only because he is the Creator can he give us life forever. Joy over creation, thanksgiving for creation and responsibility for it all belong together.”

Pope Benedict XVI knew and shared that the Gospel opens us to great possibility when we live life generously serving one another in our families, parishes, and communities, and we are all better people and better Catholics as a result. We pray that Pope Benedict XVI, a great man of the Church, will find eternal peace in the embrace of the Lord Jesus he served so faithfully in life. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

 ***

Statement from Bishop William Wack, of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, on the Death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: I was saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI early in the morning on Saturday, December 31. I urge all our pastors, religious and faithful, to offer prayers today and during this period of prayer for the repose of his soul. May God receive him into the heavenly banquet.

Pope Benedict XVI was a true servant of Jesus Christ. As a priest and theologian, he desired only to know the Lord and to make him known. He strove in his writings to express God’s love and mercy for each of us. In his first encyclical as pope, Benedict taught in line with St. John the Evangelist the simple and yet profound message, Deus caritas est (“God is love”). In his beautiful second encyclical, Spe Salvi, Benedict reminded the Church that at the center of our faith is a person, Jesus Christ, and our greatest goal is communion with him.

Benedict embodied the love, dedication, passion and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. In the coming days and years, much more will be said about him — one of the most significant theologians and pastors of our time. For now, let us all unite our prayers, both our private prayers and our celebrations of the Eucharist, for the happy repose of this servant of the Lord.

I encourage Masses to be celebrated for the repose of the soul of Benedict XVI in all of our parishes. Also appropriate are devotions such as the rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours (“For the Dead”), eucharistic adoration, silent prayer in church or other holy places, and acts of charity in memory of Pope Benedict XVI. I urge our principals and teachers to lead various prayers with our students for the happy repose of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

I offer here a prayer you and your family may wish to pray in the following days:

O God, we thank you for the long life of your dedicated servant, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. All our hope is in you, for you so loved the world that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to bring us salvation. As we honor the life and service of Pope Benedict, may we strive only to know the Lord and make him known through our words and actions. Continue to guide your Church in the ways of truth, peace, and love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 

 ***

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr  of Cincinnati has released the following statement upon the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

“Please join me in praying for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was a vicar of Peter and faithful shepherd of Christ’s Church.

“Pope Benedict is widely known as one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, but this distinction should not overshadow his genuine personal interactions and humble nature. Those of us who interacted with him can attest to his ready sense of humor and consistently kind nature.

“During my years as general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the early 1990s, I would frequently travel to Rome, and oftentimes I would see then-Cardinal Ratzinger making his daily treks across St. Peter’s Square from his apartment to his office. He would mingle with the people in the square while garbed in a simple black cassock. There was no indication that he was a cardinal. Often, he was asked by groups to serve as its photographer. This he did willingly and with a generous smile. As far as the group members were concerned, they had just been assisted by one of the local priests – and Cardinal Ratzinger seemed content to leave them with that understanding. I often wonder today if any of those tourists know their photographer moved on to become Pope Benedict XVI.” 

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr will celebrate Mass for the peaceful repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, at 5:15pm.

***

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois issued the following statement in response to the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: 

“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was an authentic example of faithfulness to God and Catholicism, living and preaching the Gospel message with truth and passion. Always writing and teaching, his warm smile, gentle demeanor, and pastoral approach to explaining and living out the Catholic faith inspired millions and brought people closer to Christ. His reverence toward the Eucharist, the Mass, and the sacraments are examples for us today on how we should all view and respect these treasures of the Catholic faith. His steadfast defense of our faith’s teachings and traditions and remaining faithful to them, despite the pressures of the secular world and from inside the Church, is the mark of a true leader.     

“To this day, I am humbled Pope Benedict appointed me as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. I had the honor of meeting with him several times. I will forever remember his friendliness and compassion. His theological genius and his ability to communicate our rich and oftentimes difficult theology to the people in a clear and understandable way was most impressive. The Catholic Church lost an incredible and humble man, but his legacy leaves a lasting impression on the faithful and our Church.” 

***

12:08pm EST

“The Papal Foundation joins the Universal Catholic Church in praying for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. A “simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord,” Pope Benedict was a scholar and servant, whose profound love for the Church was evident throughout his life. From 2005 to 2013, Pope Benedict demonstrated this love through his involvement in The Papal Foundation’s work, meeting the needs of the Holy See by serving the poorest of the poor in developing nations around the world. During his Papacy, the Foundation made more than 700 grants to build churches, hospitals, and schools, serving the faithful all over the globe, and awarded nearly 500 scholarships that enabled lay and religious leaders to study in Rome. Individuals were healed, educated, clothed, fed, and brought together in the Faith because of Pope Benedict’s work. We are forever grateful for his leadership and will continue to live Pope Benedict’s message in Deus Caritas Est, not only giving of what we have, but of who we are. Holy Father, Requiescat in Pace.”

11:38am EST

Franciscan University of Steubenville mourns the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 95, who died on December 31. The University community prays for the repose of his soul, offering heartfelt tributes to the beloved former pope and deeply respected theologian.

Having served the Church as a professor, theologian, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy in April 2005 and took the name Benedict XVI. At the age of 85, he announced his resignation from the papacy on February 11, 2013, the first pope to do so in 600 years. His unexpected retirement prompted an outpouring of tributes from Franciscan University.

Serving as pope emeritus for the past 10 years, he remained active as one of the leading theologians of our time.

Worldwide attention was given to Pope Emeritus Benedict’s fascinating, nearly four-page letter to Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, on October 7, in which he affirmed the Second Vatican Council as “meaningful” and “necessary.” The letter was sent on the occasion of the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation Annual Conference, held at Franciscan University of Steubenville Oct. 20-21, 2022. 

“I am particularly moved by Benedict’s love of Jesus and his desire to make him known,” said Father Pivonka. “Benedict offered his life to the service of Jesus and his Church, and the community of Franciscan University is eternally grateful.”

“On a personal level, I’m grateful for the letter Benedict wrote to me on the gift of the Second Vatican Council, which may be among the last letters he wrote,” Father Pivonka added.

Scott Hahn, professor of biblical theology at Franciscan University and author of the book, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, recalled with gratitude Benedict’s profound impact as a Catholic biblical theologian and “a modern master of mystagogy—biblical-theological catechesis about the sacraments as sacred mysteries.”

“From his first moments as pope, Benedict XVI established biblical renewal as a key theme of his pontificate,” said Hahn. “In hindsight, it’s clear that no pope in over a millennium could match Benedict’s knowledge of Scripture and theology. … just as ‘The Theology of the Body’ represents the theological legacy of Pope St. John Paul II; so Pope Benedict’s ‘Biblical Theology of Christ’ will be an essential part of Benedict’s lasting legacy for future generations.”

“When he resigned the office of Peter in 2013, I was among those who deeply grieved at the silencing of his voice,” Hahn added. “Today, my mourning goes deeper still.”

Regis Martin, professor of theology at Franciscan University, offered these thoughts on the legacy of Pope Benedict: “In thinking about the late pope, the impact of whose life and work has been immense and far-reaching, two striking features come to mind that characterize this extraordinary figure. One, an utter fearlessness in defending the faith that has come to us from the Apostles. And second, a complete, childlike docility in submitting his entire life to the Gospel that God himself had come among us to reveal.”

“Pope Benedict XVI will be sorely missed,” said Dr. Michael Sirilla, professor of theology at Franciscan University. “Having studied his work for many years, it is clear to me that the singular purpose of his life’s work—as a theologian, pastor, and pope—was to bring as many people as possible into a personal and saving encounter with Jesus Christ through faith.”

Stephen Hildebrand, professor of theology at Franciscan University, said, “What a gift the life of Benedict has been for the Church! The deepest and sharpest of theological minds, faithful and prudent as a pastor, a gentle soul sensitive to beauty, especially in music and in liturgy. We thank God for his life and pray for his eternal rest. May God reward this good and faithful servant!”

Earlier updates:

Friday Dec. 30:

At 3pm Rome time, the Vatican issued the following statement:

Responding to reporters’ questions, Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni said the following:

‘Last night the Pope Emeritus was able to rest well. He also participated in the celebration of Holy Mass in his room yesterday afternoon. At present his condition is stable.’”

Italian and German media have reported that in compliance with Benedict XVI’s wishes, he is not expected to be taken to hospital as all medical equipment capable of treating him is located in his residence in the Vatican Gardens. He is being treated by his personal physician, Dr. Patrizio Polisca, an expert Italian cardiologist who for a time was the doctor of Pope Francis, and a nurse. 

Thursday Dec. 29:

VATICAN CITY — At 2.30pm Rome time on Thursday, Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni issued the following statement in response to reporters’ questions about Benedict XVI’s health:

“The Pope Emeritus was able to rest well last night. He is absolutely lucid and alert, and today, although his condition remains serious, the situation at the moment is stable. Pope Francis renews his invitation to pray for him and accompany him in these difficult hours.”

Sources close to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where Benedict lives told the Register on Thursday the Pope Emeritus’ condition was very grave yesterday evening and the consensus was that he might not survive more than a few days, but his health stabilized overnight as the Vatican statement confirms. 

The recent statement followed Pope Francis’ disclosure of his condition at Wednesday morning’s general audience: “I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is supporting the Church in silence,” Francis said. “Remember him – he is very ill – asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end.”

The Vatican said that after the audience, Francis visited Benedict at his Mater Ecclesiae Monastery residence in the Vatican. 

The Register has contacted Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, for comment but he has not yet responded. 

In recent years, Benedict XVI has become noticeably very frail, immobile, and unable to speak clearly, but Archbishop Gänswein and various visitors have testified to his mental alertness and relatively good health.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis praised the Pope Emeritus saying that “all of us sense his spiritual presence, his accompaniment in prayer for the whole Church and his constant contemplative gaze.” 

Pope Francis was presenting the Ratzinger Prize to French Jesuit theologian Michel Fédou and Jewish law professor Joseph Weiler. Benedict was not present at the ceremony but received the prize winners at his residence. 

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