Former Pope Benedict XVI has died at his Vatican residence, aged 95, nearly a decade after stepping down due to failing health.
He led the Catholic Church for less than eight years before becoming, in 2013, the first pope to step down since Gregory XII in 1415.
Benedict XVI spent his last years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, inside the Vatican.
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His successor, Pope Francis, said he paid him frequent visits to this monastery.
The Vatican announced in a statement: “It is with sadness that I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, died today at 9:34 a.m. at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican.”
“Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”
The Vatican has indicated that the body of the pope emeritus will be placed in St. Peter’s Basilica from January 2 for “the salvation of the faithful”.
Plans for Pope Benedict’s funeral will be announced in the coming hours, the Vatican said.
Although the former pontiff was ill for some time, Vatican authorities said his condition had worsened due to his advanced age.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis asked his last audience of the year at the Vatican to “pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict,” whom he said was very ill.
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, Benedict XVI was 78 when he became one of the oldest popes ever elected in 2005.
For most of his pontificate, the Catholic Church has had to deal with allegations, legal actions and official reports of decades of child abuse by priests.
Earlier this year, the former pope admitted mistakes were made in handling abuse cases when he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.ce.