Retired Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95

Benedict was seen as a dominant intellectual figure in Roman Catholicism as he moved to more conservative positions in the 40 years before assuming the papacy. In 1981, he became governor of the Congregational Doctrine Doctrine of Faith council – known as the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th century – which promoted and practiced church doctrine.

His fierce resistance to what he saw as campaigns to secularize the church, promote women as priests, “normalize” homosexuality, and promote the liberal Latin American type of Catholicism known as liberation theology led to him being labeled the “Rottweiler of God.”

Among his more significant actions as governor was the issuance of an official letter in May 2001 that was widely interpreted as investigations into allegations of sexual harassment by clergymen as secret church matters not subject to scrutiny by civilian law enforcement. Critics – and lawyers for victims of such abuse – have often pointed to the letter as proof that the church is trying to cover up the burgeoning scandal.

Pope Benedict XVI waving from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after he was elected by the conclave on April 19, 2005. Mario Tama / Getty Images

The fallout has haunted Benedict since the beginning of his pontificate. In 2005, his first year as Pope, he was accused of personally covering up a priest’s abuse of three children in Texas. He evaded the lawsuit by requesting and obtaining diplomatic immunity from the State Department.

“He could go around and serve the victims, which he did, and I think that was a bold and profound thing to do, but he failed to change the precise elements of the Catholic Church that made abuse possible,” said Michael D’Antonio. , author of “The Deadly Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal.”

Benedict apologized in February for “grave mistakes” in the clergy’s handling of sexual harassment cases, but denied committing any personal or private offenses after an independent report from a German law firm criticized his actions in four cases when he was archbishop of Munich.

Benedict’s conservatism spread to the church’s public. In addition to his native German, he was fluent in Italian, French, English, and Latin, the last of which he tried to portray in church service.

In 2007, he published an official document allowing the Tridentine Rite, also known as the Traditional Latin Rite, to be performed in European and North African countries whose history was shaped by Latin. The Traditional Mass was founded in the early 1960s by Pope XXIII.

Benedict, who is often quoted as rebuking more liberal theologians who claimed that the council reforms were a rejection of previous practices of the church, re-established many dormant symbols of the church’s power – wearing fur-lined robes and jewel-laden rings. and revived the tradition of wearing bright red leather shoes symbolizing the bloody feet of Jesus when he was sent to be crucified.

Benedict claimed that such symbols were equated with the enormous visual expression the church made through its magnificent churches and cathedrals and its unique collection of large works of art.

“All great works of art, cathedrals – Gothic cathedrals and magnificent Baroque churches – are a bright sign of God and therefore truly a manifestation, a manifestation of God,” he said in 2008.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis
Pope Francis, left, and Pope XVI. Benedict at the Vatican in June 2017.L’Osservatore Romano / AP file

Benedict was 78 years old when he became pope in 2005—the oldest pope elected in nearly three centuries—and was already frail, turning 85 on February 11, 2013.

“After many tests of my conscience before God, I have decided that, given my advanced age, my strength is no longer fit to adequately perform the Petrine ministry,” he said at a meeting with cardinals at the Vatican. Catholic doctrine of papal primacy. “In the past few months, my strength has waned so much that I have had to admit my inability to properly perform the service entrusted to me.”

And with that, Benedict gave three weeks’ notice that he would step down at the end of the month.

Benedict assumed the title of retired pope and continued to wear papal white. However, he returned the Fisherman’s Ring, which was traditionally ceremonially destroyed with a hammer blow after a pope died. And he wanted to be addressed as Father Benedict.

The former pope also maintained a cordial relationship with Francis. Both men were glowing as they embraced on December 8, 2015, before opening the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the start of the Catholic Holy Year, or Jubilee. In June 2016, Francis kissed Benedict on both cheeks to mark the 65th anniversary of the ex-pope’s inauguration.

Their relationship was fictionalized in the 2019 movie “The Two Popes,” based on Anthony McCarten’s play “The Pope.” The film tells of Benedict secretly summoning Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the liberal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who would become Pope Francis, to the Vatican to reveal his intention to resign.

In a series of speeches, Benedict, played by Anthony Hopkins, admits that he can no longer hear God’s words and believes that perhaps Bergoglio should replace him as the only person who can shatter the Vatican bureaucracy and reform the institution.

Benedict says that change is needed, but “change is compromise” and is incapable of compromise. “I’ve been alone my whole life, but I’ve never been alone until now,” she says.

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