Pope Benedict XVI dies: Resignation of ‘God’s Rottweiler’ shocked the world – and he continued to be controversial | World News

The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict is an unfamiliar place for modern Catholics.

He is the first pope since the Middle Ages. Died after retiring from office.

His death will trigger public mourning but not the choice of a successor that many are used to.

Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
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Pope Benedict on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican

Pope FrancisElected in 2013 after Benedict stepped down, he will continue in his role as head of the Catholic Church.

As the world remembers the 265th pope, it will also reflect on his time as one of the most powerful religious leaders on earth.

Clergy members familiar with Benedict say he was known as an intellectual pope.

“Benedict was a shy man. He loved books. He loved his desk, writing, reflecting. Beautiful German, and then in other languages, his thoughts. But a lonely person. He was saying to people: ‘ My true friends. These are the books,” said Professor Felix Koerner SJ, a theologian at Humboldt University in Berlin.

In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Benedict XVI, the first German to be elected pope in a thousand years.

Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI (R) walk through the gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on September 16, 2010 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 2010

An uncompromising religious conservative, the cardinals chose him as a “safe pair of hands” and a hero to many traditionalists, his time in office marked by several scandals.

The son of a policeman, born in 1927, he lived under Nazi rule as a child.

As a teenager he served in the Hitler Youth during World War II when membership was compulsory.

While his family opposed Adolf Hitler’s regime and he did not join the Nazi Party, many in the Jewish community were concerned when he was first elected.

On a visit to the Auschwitz death camp, he confronts Germany’s dark past.

“This is as historic a visit as his predecessor, Pope John Paul II,” said Rabbi Marvin Heyer, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center at the time. “The fact that a German pope who grew up in Nazi Germany and who once wore the uniform of the Hitler Youth, knelt in prayer at the site of the world’s greatest atrocity and condemned hatred, is anti-Semitism. It is denied.”

Pope Benedict XVI is pictured with fellow priests, his brother Georg Ratzinger and friend Rupert Berger, on the day he was ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1951, in Munich.
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Pope Benedict with fellow priests, his brother Georg Ratzinger and friend Rupert Berger, on the day he was ordained in June 1951.

This was not the only flashpoint.

In 2006, Benedict sparked outrage in the Muslim world when, during a speech in Germany, he quoted the 14th-century emperor as saying that Islam spread evil in the world by the sword.

After the protest, anger spread.

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He later had to issue an apology, saying he was “very sorry” for the reaction to his address.

In 2009, a resurgence of Holocaust deniers outraged Jews as well as many Catholics.

Later that year, he sparked further outrage when he told reporters on his first trip to Africa that condoms exacerbated the problem of AIDS and HIV.

Despite these errors, among many conservative Catholics, Benedict was popular.

    1979 FILE PHOTO: Pope John Paul II, left, poses with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Pope Benedict PIC:AP
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Pope John Paul II (L), with Pope Benedict – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – in 1979

As a cardinal charged with enforcing doctrinal purity, Benedict was nicknamed.God’s Rottweiler“For his uncompromising conservative views.

As pope, he was respected for his deep faith and his work as a theologian, producing 60 books between 1963 and 2013.

“His power was clearly to express the Christian faith in a way that is understandable to modern humans. That is his message. That is what he is leaving us with,” Professor Koerner said. .

Child abuse scandals plagued his time as pope and continued to haunt him until his retirement.

While his supporters pointed out that he removed hundreds of priests from the priesthood for abuse, others felt that he could have done more.

“The number one challenge for Pope Benedict was the abuse crisis, which during his tenure was growing rapidly and spreading throughout the world. And he took several steps to respond to it. But his Critics say he didn’t. Luke Koppen, senior correspondent for the Catholic website The Pillar, said he didn’t do enough while he was pope.

Pope Benedict XVI prays 'Urbi et Orbi' (for the city and the world) in St Peter's Square at the Vatican during the Easter Sunday mass PIC:AP
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Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican, 2012

In 2022, Benedict admitted mistakes had been made and apologized after an independent report in Germany failed to prosecute four sexual abuse cases while he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.

His lawyers argued that he was not directly guilty.

In 2012, scandal darkened Pope Benedict’s door once again, when his butler was found to have leaked documents accusing him of corruption and infighting. The Vatican

“Pope Benedict’s pontificate has undoubtedly been marked by massive corruption and dysfunction within the Vatican itself.

“And many people believe that, in fact, his pontificate ended, because of all the problems in the Vatican that prevented him from focusing on his main powers of preaching and teaching,” Mr Coppen said. .

Undoubtedly fed up with the “Vatelux” scandal and ongoing ill health, the following year, Pope Benedict once again courted controversy, this time becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign.

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attend a meeting at the Vatican on August 27, 2022, the day of a permanent ceremony to raise Roman Catholic prelates to the rank of cardinal.
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Pope Francis and Pope Benedict in August 2022

In his last address to the faithful he acknowledged the weight of the office and the problems of the church.

Then, in an unusual chapter for the Catholic Church, he bid farewell to the cardinals before retiring to a monastery in Vatican City.

He said it was a remarkable step. Not until he dies, but where he finds himself saying, ‘I’m too weak to lead now, so I need to step down as a pope as well,’ Professor Koerner explained.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gestures at Munich Airport before departing for Rome
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Pope Benedict ‘will be remembered as a pope of reflection and thought’

After retirement, Benedict chose to wear white, give interviews and not revert to his old name. Critics of the decision claimed that it threatened unity in the church.

But the two popes had a strong personal relationship, with Francis referring to his predecessor as a grandfather figure and asking people to pray for his friend as his health deteriorated.

“He is very sick,” Pope Francis told worshipers in December 2022, asking the Lord to comfort him until the end.

Today, Benedict XVI is remembered as the “pope of reflection and thought” as millions of Catholics around the world pray for the man who led their church for nearly a decade.



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