Remembering the Life and Legacy of Benedict XVI

His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI 

April 16, 1927 – December 31, 2022

Pope Benedict XVI passed into eternal life on December 31, 2022 at age 95.

The Vatican announced of his death at 10:30 am Rome time on Dec. 31 in a statement translated into several languages.

“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 office director Matteo Bruni said. “Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”

From Jan. 2, the body of the Pope Emeritus will rest in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican “for the faithful to bid farewell.” Bruni later added that Benedict XVI’s funeral will be celebrated by Pope Francis on Thursday, Jan. 5, in St Peter’s Square. Pope Emeritus received last rites on Wednesday afternoon after the Holy Mass.

Pope Benedict XVI served as the 265th pontiff of the Catholic Church from April 19, 2005 until February 28, 2013. He became the first pope in over half a millennium to step down from his post, and explained that he made the difficult decision to resign due to his old age and declining health. 

Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, “Fr. Rocky”, Chairman and CEO of Relevant Radio, spoke of the incredible legacy of the late pontiff, saying, “Joseph Ratzinger was such a loyal and faithful servant of the Church during the pontificate of St. John Paul II when he led the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Later, as Pope Benedict XVI, he continued the missionary initiatives of St. John Paul II, redoubled his efforts to recover reverence for the most Blessed Sacrament, and graced the world with his profound, insightful, yet subtle exegesis on the New Testament with his three volume commentary on the Gospels. He was a man of great faith.  He will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace.” 

Early Life and Priesthood 

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was the youngest of three children growing up under the Nazi regime in Germany. His efforts to attend seminary were complicated by the war, but he persisted, finishing his degree at the University of Munich and was ordained to the priesthood in June 1951. 

He served as a professor at several different universities, teaching dogma, philosophy, and theology. A noted theologian, at age 35 he served as consultor to the Archbishop of Cologne during the Second Vatican Council and is the author of many books. 

Fr. Ratzinger was named Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977 and just one month after his consecration, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals. He served as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith beginning in 1981 during the pontificate of St. John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger also served as President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church leading up to its publication in 1992. 

The Papacy 

During his nearly eight-year papacy from 2005 to 2013, Pope Benedict XVI used his background in theology to guide and instruct the faithful. He published his bestselling 3-volume series Jesus of Nazareth and began a reform of Vatican finances that has been carried on by his successor. While the secular media remember him for a “strict” adherence to issues such as abortion, traditional marriage, contraception, and the like, faithful Catholics remember his bold defense of Catholic teaching and the dignity of human life. He continued the work of his predecessors, including strong efforts to increase reverence for the Holy Eucharist. 

Pope Benedict XVI published three encyclicals. Deus Caritas Est (2005) focused on God’s love for humanity and our commandment to love our neighbor. Spe Salvi (2007) speaks about Christian hope, while Caritas in Veritate (2009) takes a look at our moral responsibility for charity and economic justice. 

In the final years of his life, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was an incredible example of holy suffering as his health failed, and dedicated years to prayer for the Catholic Church and the world. May he rest in the peace of Christ. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.