Pope Benedict XVI is dead

Benedict XVI

Former Pope Benedict XVI, who is the immediate predecessor of Pope Francis, is dead. He died on Saturday in a monastery in the Vatican at age 95. The late pontiff had resigned in 2013 due to old age and inability to perform his duties because of old age ailments.

The German became the first pope in 600 years to step down from his position.

In a statement by the Vatican, the remains of the deceased would lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday. Meanwhile, he will be buried on Thursday, January 5, 2023, which will be officiated by Pope Francis.

As news of Benedict’s death spread across faithful on Saturday, bells tolled across the Vatican City.

The spokesperson of the Vatican, Matteo Bruni announced the former pontiff’s death in a statement. He said, "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.”

Christianity Nigeria had earlier reported that during the week, Pope Francis had sought prayers for the former pontiff.

World leaders have paid respect to the late Benedict XVI. In his condolence message, Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni said, “A Christian, a pastor, a theologian: (he was) a great man who history will not forget."

On his part, French President, Emmanuel Macron, said that Benedict "worked with all his soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world."

Similarly, the state premier of Bavaria, Germany, where the deceased hailed from, Markus Soeder described Benedict as "one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century".

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict reigned for almost 25 years as the powerful head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office which was then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Benedict succeeded Pope John Paul II in April 19, 2005 after the latter held the position for 27 years.

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