In the past few days, the health status of the emeritus pope has deteriorated significantly.
According to the Vatican, Benedict’s body will be displayed at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome starting Monday.
The faithful will have the opportunity to say goodbye to him until the funeral mass on Thursday morning. Pope Francis will lead the requiem mass. His emeritus predecessor will then have his final resting place in the Vatican Grottoes in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict XVI came from Bavaria, and his real name was Joseph Ratzinger. He was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church in April 2005.
Before that, he was the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for more than 20 years and, during this time, had a significant influence on Catholic doctrine.
In 2013, Benedict became the second pope in history to resign voluntarily. Since then, he has lived in seclusion in a monastery in the Vatican Gardens.
Most recently, he was accused of errors in a report on dealing with cases of abuse during his time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising at the end of the 1970s.
Bishops pay tribute to an “impressive theologian”; reformers lament a “difficult legacy.”
The German Bishops’ Conference chairman, Bishop Bätzing of Limburg, praised the deceased as an impressive theologian. Benedict gave hope and direction to the church, even in difficult times. With “high respect,” he thinks of his courageous decision in 2013 to resign from the office of Pope.
But Bätzing also referred to the recent criticism of Benedict’s handling of cases of abuse during his time as Archbishop of Munich. According to Bätzing, he asked those affected for forgiveness.
The current Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Marx, said he mourned “a faithful witness of God’s love and an important teacher of the Church.”
The Bishop of Essen, Overbeck, explained that Benedict had “had a lifelong dialogue with the various forces and tendencies of our time.” He had “contributed more than some of his predecessors to the renewal of the church.”
On the other hand, the reform movement “We are Church” sees the late former Pope Benedict XVI as a “contradictory theologian” who shaped the Roman Catholic Church in a backward-looking manner for decades. With a climate of fear and a theological standstill, he left a problematic legacy to his successor, Pope Francis, and the entire Church, which is still affecting today, as the initiative explained in Munich.
The chairwoman of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Kurschus, underlined the contribution of Benedict XVI to the dialogue between the churches. As a cardinal and pope, Joseph Ratzinger emphasized what they had in common on ecumenical issues. Kurschus explained that the fact that he resigned from his position in 2013 for health reasons made him deeply human.
Söder: Mourning for the “Bavarian Pope”
Numerous tributes also came from politics. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Söder said, “We mourn our Bavarian Pope.” Many people in his homeland remember Benedict XVI fondly as Pope and a humble pastor. Söder said that Benedikt gave many people strength and orientation but, at the same time, had to take responsibility for difficult phases in his work.
The death of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI concerned Federal President Steinmeier. Steinmeier explained that Benedikt’s faith, intellect, wisdom, and human modesty impressed him deeply. Many people, not only Catholics, would have found clear orientation through him.
Steinmeier underlined the former pope’s unique role in Germany and as a mediator between religions. The election of a pope from the motherland of the Reformation was a vital sign for many people worldwide. “The unity of Christianity, the dialogue between religions, and the coexistence of religion and society were essential to him.” Steinmeier wrote that Benedict sought dialogue with Jews, Muslims, and all Christian denominations worldwide.
Scholz: “An influential figure of the Catholic Church.”
Chancellor Scholz wrote on Twitter that the world was losing a formative figure in the Catholic Church, a controversial personality, and a clever theologian. “His thoughts are with Pope Francis,” said Scholz.
The CDU chairman Merz explained that Benedict XVI was able to trigger a new turn towards the Catholic Church across all generations, especially in his home country of Germany.