Diocese of Charleston releases statement on death of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who became the first pontiff to retire in 600 years, died Saturday at age 95.
Published: Dec. 31, 2022 at 3:24 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2022 at 11:09 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston paid tribute Saturday to retired Pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to retire in 600 years.

The diocese released a statement on behalf of the Most Rev. Jacques Fabre-Jeune, the Bishop of Charleston, who said he was deeply saddened to learn of Benedict’s death at 95.

“He served for eight years as our Holy Father and gave his life to the Lord in service to the Church,” the bishop said in the statement, adding that Benedict “faithfully and humbly upheld the traditions of our Church, and his writings and teachings remain a powerful and profound guide to the faithful.”

“His contributions to theology through his exceptional knowledge of the faith have helped equip our Church leaders to lead people to Christ, the Good Shepherd,” Fabre-Jeune said.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a reluctant pope who never wanted to be pontiff, announced on a Vatican holiday in 2013 that he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign.

His dramatic exit paved the way for Pope Francis’ election and created the unprecedented arrangement of two popes, living side-by-side in the Vatican gardens. And it likely won’t be a one-off, given that Francis himself has said Benedict “opened the door” for other popes to follow suit.

“It took humility to resign as the head of the Church, out of the love he had for her and for the common good,” Fabre-Jeune said of the decision. “As Holy Father Pope Francis reiterated recently, Benedict ― even in silence ― sustains the Church in praying for continued unity.”

The bishop urged the faithful to pray for the soul of Benedict XVI, “that he will find true fulfilment, mercy and joy in the presence of God, the Father of all.”

Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, will lead Benedict’s funeral Mass on Thursday, closing out an unprecedented chapter in the history of the papacy with a reigning pope eulogizing a retired one.