Pope Benedict XVI Dies at 95

Pope Benedict XVI

German-born Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away earlier today (Dec 31) at his residence in the Vatican. He was 95 years old.  Benedict XVI served as pope from 2005 until 2013.

Pope Francis will preside over Benedict XVI's funeral on Jan. 5 at. St. Peter's Square, and that the late Catholic church official will lie in state at the basilica starting on Monday.  

Joseph Ratzinger was born in Marktl am Inn (on the Inn River), Germany, 16 April 1927, Holy Saturday, and was the first person baptized in the Easter Water blessed at the Easter Vigil. His father, a policeman, from a family of farmers in  Lower Baveria, was frequently transferred. Although his family opposed Nazism, Ratzinger was compelled to join the Hitler Youth as a teenager and was later conscripted into an auxiliary anti-aircraft unit of the German Army.

In the 1950s, Ratzinger became a professor specializing in fundamental theology and dogma, teaching at multiple Catholic academic institutions.

On 24 March 1977, Fr. Ratzinger was elected Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI. He was ordained to the episcopal Order on 28 May 1977, taking  as his motto a phrase from 3 John 8, "Fellow Worker in the Truth."  On 27 June 1977, he was elevated to Cardinal (Cardinal Priest) by Pope Paul VI, with the titular church of St. Mary of Consolation (in Tiburtina). In 1980, he was named by Pope John Paul II to chair the special Synod on the Laity.  

On April 19, 2005, 17 days after the death of Pope John Paul II, Ratzinger was elected the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the name Benedict XVI. On 11 February 2013, Benedict announced his resignation, citing a "lack of strength of mind and body" due to his advanced age.  Benedict chose to be known by the title "pope emeritus" upon his resignation, and he retained this title until his death. 



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