Former Pope Benedict, who became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign in 2013, died on Saturday at the age of 95 in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, where he had lived since his resignation, according to a Holy See spokeswoman.
“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. Further information will be provided as soon as possible,” the spokesman said in a written statement.
Earlier this week, during his weekly general audience, Pope Francis revealed that his predecessor was “very sick” and requested for prayers.
Benedict was the powerful leader of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, formerly known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for nearly 25 years as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (CDF).
Conservatives in the Church have looked to Francis as their standard bearer, and some ultra-traditionalists have even refused to recognise Francis as a genuine pontiff.
They have criticised Francis for his more accepting attitude toward members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the Church, claiming that both undermine traditional values.