Former Pope Benedict XVI has died, aged 95. He stood down almost a decade ago because of ailing health.
He led the Catholic Church for fewer than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
Former Pope Benedict lived out his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the Vatican. He passed away at 09:34 on Saturday. Pope Francis will lead his funeral on 5th January.
The Vatican announced the body of the Pope Emeritus will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from 2 January for “the greeting of the faithful”.
A great theologian
A single bell rang from St Peter’s Square in Rome after the Benedict’s death was announced. Also, in Munich, bells rang out from the cathedral at news of the former pope’s passing.
There have been many statements from politicians and religious leaders around the world. Many praised his knowledge and skill as a theologian.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said Pope Benedict “was a giant of faith and reason”.
“He put his life at the service of the universal Church and spoke, and will continue to speak, to the hearts and minds of men with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual depth of his Magisterium.”
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said for many, not only in Germany, Pope Benedict was “a formative figure of the Catholic Church, a controversial personality and a clever theologian”.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the former pope “a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Pope Benedict “worked with soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Pope Benedict as a “defender of traditional Christian values.”
People have been gathering in St Peter’s Square in Rome, following news of the former pope’s death.