Pope Francis, President Biden, others pay tribute to the Late Benedict XVI
Pope Francis in describing his predecessor, Benedict XVI said he had been noble and kind – and gifted to the Roman Catholic Church.
This was announced hours after the pontiff’s death, where Pope Francis further praised his predecessor, emphasising his sacrifices offered for the good of the Church.
Also, the US President Joe Biden and King Charles III are among dozens of leaders to praise the former pontiff. In the US, the White House released a statement from President Biden – who is only the second Catholic after John F Kennedy to hold the nation’s highest office.
Recalling spending time with Benedict at the Vatican in 2011, the president said that he would be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith.
In the UK, the new monarch King Charles III said that he received news of the former Pope’s death with deep sadness. Sending a message of condolence to Pope Francis he highlighted Benedict’s constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people and his actions to strengthen bonds between Catholics and Anglicans.
Benedict resigned in 2013 because of poor health – the first pope to do so in 600 years. His funeral service will be held at the Vatican on 5 January
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Benedict XVI a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country. The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said Benedict transformed his image in the UK when he visited.
Talking to the BBC, the cardinal said he arrived with a reputation of being God’s Rottweiler, but left being compared to everybody’s favourite great-uncle or just uncle. Leaders of countries with large Catholic populations have also been paying tribute.
In Italy, the new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called Benedict a giant of faith and reason and a great man whom history will not forget while Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described the former pope as humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.
Benedict resigned in 2013 because of poor health – the first pope to do so in 600 years. His funeral service will be held at the Vatican on 5 January. He was born in Bavaria as Joseph Ratzinger and in 1977 was appointed archbishop of Munich.
Reaction to his death in the city was varied – with one resident describing him as conservative, whilst taking pride from the fact that he was German.
“I thought when he came to power he would finally bring some fresh air into the Catholic Church and bring an end to celibacy. But unfortunately, he disappointed me,” Christa Herwig told Reuters.
Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the late pope as a formative figure of the Catholic Church, a forthright personality and a clever theologian. However, Scholz also called him a controversial personality. In 2019 Benedict blamed clerical sexual abuse on the sexual freedom of the 1960s and the rejection of God’s teaching.
For much of his papacy, the Catholic Church faced allegations, legal claims and official reports into decades of child abuse by priests. Earlier this year the former pope acknowledged that errors had been made in the handling of abuse cases while he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.