Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reportedly died Saturday morning at 9:34 a.m., according to the Vatican. He was 95 years old at the time.
Outside the Catholic Church, he is most known for his unexpected resignation — the first papal abdication since 1415 — and subsequent existence as the world’s first “pope emeritus” in centuries.
Benedict Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, in Bavaria. He grew up in Germany following World War I, during a period when the Nazi government was gaining power.
His desire to commit to the church was inspired by his Roman Catholic upbringing.
Ratzinger was motivated to become a priest at a young age after being charged with delivering flowers to Archbishop Michael von Faulhaber of Munich.
The five-year-old Ratzinger expressed his intention to become a cardinal after seeing the clergyman’s crimson robes and elegant manner.
His bibliography, which includes encyclicals on morality, investigations of the life of Jesus, and retrospective views at church history, spans from his first years as a priest through his papacy and beyond.
One of his most significant early accomplishments was the establishment of the theological journal Communio, which became one of the most influential publications of Catholic thought in his own country.
Cardinal Ratzinger persuaded Pope Benedict XVI to delegate power over abuse accusations from individual dioceses to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Benedict supervised the profound turnaround of abuse cases with the attention of John Paul II and personally pushed for investigations against many prelates who were eventually convicted or forced to leave.
Benedict resigned as Pope in February 2013, at the age of 85, becoming the first pope in centuries to do so.
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