Former Pope Benedict has died aged 95 in a Vatican monastery

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 31 (Reuters) – Ex Pope Benedictwho in 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign, died on Saturday at the age of 95 in a secluded Vatican monastery where he lived after stepping down, a Holy See spokesman said.

The Vatican said his body will be laid to rest from Monday in St Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican has elaborated rituals for what happens after a reigning pope dies, but there are no publicly known ones for a former pope.

“It is with sadness that I inform you that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died today at 9:34 a.m. at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Pope Francis revealed during his weekly general audience that his predecessor was “very ill” and asked people to pray for him.

For almost 25 years, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict was the powerful head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

He was elected pope on April 19, 2005, to succeed the widely popular Pope John Paul II, who ruled for 27 years. The Cardinals drafted him among them, looking for continuity and what some called a “safe pair of hands.”

The first German pope in 1,000 years, Benedict himself admitted he was a poor administrator, saying he had shown a “lack of decisiveness in governance and decision-making” during his eight-year papacy, which was marked by missteps and a leak scandal of information.

Child abuse scandals dogged most of his pontificate, but he is credited with quickly starting the process to discipline or excommunicate predator priests after the more lax treatment under his predecessor.

After his resignation, conservatives in the Church looked to the former pope as their standard-bearer, and some ultra-traditionalists even refused to recognize Francis as a legitimate pontiff.

They have criticized Francis for his more welcoming approach to members of the LGBTQ+ community and to Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the Church, saying both undermine traditional values.

Reporting by Angelo Amante and Crispian Ballmer; Editing by Alison Williams, Frances Carey and Andrew Havens

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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