Farewell Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at his home in Rome on Saturday 31st December 2022.

He was 95.

Pope-Benedict-XVI-newsHis death in Rome came a few days after Pope Francis asked for prayers for his predecessor whose health deteriorated in the days before Christmas when he developed respiratory complications.

Benedict died at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican following his retirement in February 2013.

The last pope not to die in office was more than 600 years ago.

His body will rest at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery until the morning of Monday, 2 January when it will then be moved lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica so the faithful can pay their final respects.

Pope Francis will preside over the funeral of the Pope Emeritus on 5 January at 9.30 (Rome time) in St. Peter's Square.L

The Pope Emeritus‘ remains will then be taken into St. Peter's Basilica and then to the Vatican Grottos where he will be laid to rest.

Following his death Pope Francis spoke of Benedict's great kindness, witness of faith, and prayer.

"We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind. And 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.”

In 2003 an Australian priest was called to Rome to work in the Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That priest, today the Bishop of Broken Bay, Bishop Anthony Randazzo, was the first Australian priest to work in the Holy Office.

On receiving news from the Vatican on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Bishop Anthony Randazzo said;" As priest, theologian, bishop, Prefect, and Pope, Joseph Ratzinger tended to avoid things showy or overstated. It struck me that he was not so much interested in himself, rather he was captivated by the beauty of culture and life, in sum, he was caught up in the discovery of the creator of beauty and author of all life. Communicating and clarifying his discovery became his opus magnus, the great work of his life and ministry.

"Benedict XVI will be remembered for many different reasons; however, I will always remember him for his work of uncovering the truth. Not some subjective opinion dressed up as “truth”, but the objective Truth, who is Christ Jesus. I recall working with him at a meeting in the Vatican when he reminded those of us with him that 'consensus does not lead to truth, Truth leads to consensus.' It was an insight that I found to be simple and liberating. The clarity of his thinking has not diminished and is still worth pondering."

Australia remembers Benedict's historic visit to Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008 which attracted half a million people to the final Mass at Randwick. He also prayed at the tomb of Mary MacKillop in North Sydney whom he later canonised in Rome two years later.

Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in 1927 in Germany, Benedict was elected pope on 19 April 2005 in the papal conclave that followed the death of Pope John Paul II. He was the 265th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and aged 78.

A prolific writer, scholar and lover of the arts and classics, Benedict has been described as "the main intellectual force in the Church " since the 1980s.

While Benedict has been criticised by some for his handling of clergy sex abuse cases while Archbishop of Munich and Freising, he said during his retirement;" I have seen at first hand the effects of a most grievous faults whenever we neglect it or fail to confront it with the necessary decisiveness and responsibility, as too often happened or continues to happen .....I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow, and my heartfelt request for forgiveness."

Benedict stunned the world when he announced on February 11 his surprise decision to step down, saying he no longer had the "strength of mind and body" to carry on in a fast-changing world.

He said his eight-year pontificate had seen "sunny days" and "stormy waters", but he added: "I never felt alone".

The only other pope who resigned by choice was Celestine V, a humble hermit who stepped down in 1294 after just a few months in office.

Back then, the Benedictine hermit was elected in July of that year, at the age of 84, and consecrated in August after formally declaring that popes would be allowed to resign.

After that, Gregory XII resigned as pope in 1415 to end the divide caused by the Western Schism.

Feuds between Italian cardinals in the 1300s had led to the papal's formal residence being moved from Rome to Avignon in southern France but, when leaders attempted to shift it back, confusion and excommunication led to rival popes ruling different areas.

The three-decades-long saga saw multiple popes elected over the top of each other before a general council was successfully established and the whole confusion was sorted out.

Gregory XII stepped down voluntarily and other opposing popes were dismissed, which eventually led to Martin V taking over as the sole pope in 1417 and the Western Schism ending.

Bishop Anthony Randazzo's full reflection on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI here