Following reports of declining health for an extended period, the controversial Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has passed away at 95 years old.
Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in Germany near the Austrian border on April 16, 1927, he succeeded Pope John Paul II in 2005. However, he would only serve as head of the Catholic church for eight years, making him the the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign rather than remain in the post for life.
Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni, as reported by CNN, announced the news early Saturday:
“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”
According to CNN, Pope Benedict’s funeral event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 5, which will be led by his successor, Pope Francis. Benedict’s body will lie in state in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican from Monday, Jan. 2, for the Catholic faithful to bid farewell.
This is a breaking story, and we will have updates as information becomes available.