Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dead at 95
Former pope had been in failing health in recent days.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who shaped Catholic doctrine for decades before surprising the church by resigning as pontiff, died Saturday at age 95, the Vatican announced.
“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 secretary Matteo Bruni told media.
The elderly pontiff, who in 2013 became the first pope to retire in centuries, had been in failing health for several days before passing away.
Earlier in the week current Pope Francis implored Catholics to pray for the ailing pontiff. "We ask the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church to the very end,” Francis said.
Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany in 1927, had been a controversial and forceful presence in the church for decades, pushing a traditionally conservative Catholic theology in the wake of major reforms in the church from the 1960s onward.
Prior to being pope, Benedict had served as a cardinal and an advisor to Pope John Paul II.
He had also served as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, one of the most pivotal institutions in the Catholic Church, charged with overseeing the development and application of Catholic theology.