Pope Benedict XVI passed away on December 31, 2022. According to his secretary, his last words were, “Lord, I love you.”
These words were especially noteworthy for Pope Benedict because in December of 2005 he wrote “Deus Caritas Est” an encyclical letter to the Catholic Church. The letter started with the bible verse “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). In the second paragraph he states, “We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life.” The writing speaks of God’s love given to us and the Christian value of sharing that love. He wanted to explain how scriptures can apply to modern day values of love.
Pope Benedict was born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927. He was raised as a devout Catholic and his ordination took place on June 29, 1951. Those who knew him and were close with him have stated that becoming a priest was the most important experience of his life. By these accounts, he lived to be one and gave his all to living as one.
He was elected pope in 2005, following the death of John Paul II. He remained pope until 2013 when he became the first pope in six centuries to relinquish the position. When he decided to step down he cited a loss of stamina and advanced age, mentioning it was “for the good of the church.”
His death was announced by the Holy See Press Office in a statement that read, “With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 AM in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible. As of Monday morning, 2 January 2023, the body of the Pope Emeritus will be in Saint Peter's Basilica so the faithful can pay their respects." An estimated 3 million people visited to pay their final respects to Pope Benedict.
Rest in eternal peace, Pope Benedict! Thank you for your service.