Millions mourn passing of Pope Benedict XVI

Catholics the world over were left mourning this past weekend after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at the age of 95.

According to Fox News, Benedict passed away in Vatican City on Saturday morning following a long period of declining health. 

Pope’s family suffered under Nazis

Born as Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, Benedict grew up in Germany and came of age during the Nazi Party’s reign.

Fox News noted that his family suffered harassment for their opposition to government policies. What’s more, a cousin who suffered from Down Syndrome was put to death as part of a Nazi eugenics program.

The future pope was compelled to join the Hitler Youth at age 14 and was later drafted from his seminary to serve as a soldier. He deserted from the military in 1945 and was subsequently captured by American troops, who held him as prisoner of war for several months.

Benedict resumed his studies and was ordained as a priest alongside his brother in 1951. He rose to the position of Archbishop of Munich and Freising in May 1977 and was then made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI that same year.

Confronting sexual abuse

In addition to his prolific writing, Benedict was known for helping to combat sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

This included advising Pope John Paul II to task the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with addressing abuse allegations rather than leaving the matter to local dioceses.

According to Fox News, he “personally pushed for investigations into multiple prelates later prosecuted or forced to resign.”

Still, Fox News reported in January that critics accuse Benedict of failing to act on several abuse cases during his time as archbishop, a claim he denied.

Benedict became pope in 2005 but stepped down in 2013 at the age of 85, making him the first pope to resign in centuries.

Joe Biden asked not to attend funeral

Benedict’s body was made available for viewing in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday, with Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) reporting on Tuesday that over 120,000 mourners had passed by to pay their respects to the late pontiff.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed to reporters during a briefing on Tuesday that President Joe Biden was not invited to the pope’s funeral.