At the age of 95, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at his home in the Vatican, officials 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,” said Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See press office in a statement. His body will rest in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican for people of the faith to come to pay their respects.
In 2013, Benedict XVI shocked the world with his sudden resignation, stepping down from the papacy. Benedict XVI was the first German pope in several centuries and the second consecutive non-Italian pope. He was selected in just four ballots and was the oldest pope elected since Clement XII in 1730, according to church records.
During his tenure as pope, the Catholic Church dealt with several high-profile scandals, including a number of sexual abuse cases involving the clergy. The Catholic Church was also forced to acknowledge that previous sexual misconduct had been covered up.
But nothing defined Benedict XVI’s pontificate quite like the end when he resigned from the church — becoming the first pope to do so in over 600 years.
Benedict XVI said he’d never had any ambition to lead the Catholic faith, but he succeeded Pope John Paul II after being chosen in 2005.
“I prayed to God, don’t do this to me,” he later said. “But evidently, this time, he didn’t listen.”
Benedict XVI was born with the name Joseph Ratzinger and grew up in a small town in Germany in 1927. He was forced to join the Hitler Youth at age 14, forced into an anti-aircraft unit in the German army in 1943, and deserted and fled Hitler’s army and was taken prisoner by the Americans.
After the war, he entered into the priesthood and rose through the ranks of the Vatican to become a cardinal, where he earned the nickname “God’s Rottweiler” as an unrelenting enforcer of church policy.