The death of a pontiff


Photo Courtesy of Open Verse

Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to step down in six centuries and has passed away at the age of 95 on Dec. 31.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

The Roman Catholic Church ends the year with the loss of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed away Dec. 31 at the age of 95. In 2013, Benedict became the first pope to resign in over 600 years. Benedict only held the position for eight years, citing that his mental and physical state would not allow him to “fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.” 

Benedict, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in 1927, grew up in Germany during World War II joining the Hitler Youth at age 14. After deserting his anti-aircraft unit in the Nazi army, Benedict would be taken prisoner by the U.S. After the war is when Benedict would join the Catholic Church rising to become cardinal and later Archbishop of Munich. 

Benedict’s leadership of the Catholic Church, which began in 2005, mounted several controversies including the slow handling of the rampant sexual abuse by priests. Benedict responded by meeting with victims of sexual abuse while publicly condemning the “filth” found within the church. Years later, accusations of misconduct and mishandling of sex abuse cases during his time as Archbishop of Munich came to light. The then 94-year-old Benedict simply asked for forgiveness. 

As Benedict is not a sitting pope, the rituals of his passing are unclear, but is expected to lay in the Saint Peter’s Basilica until his funeral which is expected to be presided over Benedict’s predecessor Pope Francis I. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram