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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at 95

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95, almost a decade after he stood down because of ailing health, the Vatican announced.

His death on Saturday came days after Pope Francis had asked for prayers for his predecessor, saying he was “very sick”.

The Vatican said in a statement that the Pope Emeritus died at 9:34am on Saturday morning in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.

“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 bid farewell,” the press statement read in part.

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Pope Benedict XVI, who led the Catholic Church for less than eight years, became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

The Vatican said the body of the Pope Emeritus will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from 2 January for “the greeting of the faithful”.

Plans for Pope Benedict’s funeral will be announced in the next few hours, the Vatican said.

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Already for several days, the health conditions of the Pope Emeritus had worsened due to advancing age, as the Press Office had reported in its updates of the evolving situation.

Pope Francis himself publicly shared the news about his predecessor’s worsening health at the end of the last General Audience of the year, on 28 December.

The Pope had invited people to pray for the Pope Emeritus, who was “very ill,” so that the Lord might console him and support him “in this witness of love for the Church until the end.”

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Following this invitation, prayer initiatives sprung up and multiplied on all continents, along with an outpouring of messages of solidarity and closeness from secular leaders.

In the next few hours, the Holy See Press Office will communicate details for the funeral rite.

According to Vatican, pope’s burial should take place between four and six days after his death as part of a nine-day period of mourning known as the Novendiale.

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