It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed away Saturday morning December 31, 2022, at the age of 95.

Born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927, Benedict's early life was marked by the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany.                                                      

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Nastainczyk (left) with then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI 1977. Download Image HERE

Despite being mandated to join the Hitler Youth at the age of 14, Benedict resented the organization and later deserted the German military in April 1945, horrified by the atrocities he had witnessed during World War II.

Pope Paul VI delivering the cardinal's ring to Joseph Ratzinger 1977. Download Image HERE

Benedict was inspired to join the priesthood at a young age, and was ordained alongside his brother Georg in 1951. He quickly rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church, becoming Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977 and a cardinal under Pope Paul VI later that same year. As a cardinal, he played a key role in the founding of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) in 1988. He was instrumental in negotiating an agreement with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre that allowed for the establishment of the organization, which operates using the liturgical books in force in 1962. Today, the FSSP operates two international houses of formation and is dedicated to its mission of preserving traditional Catholic practices.

Cardinal Ratzinger at the Catholic meeting in Dresden, 1987. Download Image HERE

Benedict played a prominent role in the Second Vatican Council, authoring the "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church," Lumen Gentium, and participating in the development of Concilium. As the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he led a commission from 1986 to 1992 that resulted in the publication of the highly influential Catechism of the Catholic Church under Pope John Paul II. Benedict was also renowned for his work in theology and Christology, and founded the influential journal Communio. In addition, he took a proactive stance in addressing the issue of sexual abuse within the Church, pushing for investigations and working to centralize authority on the matter. Throughout his career, he wrote 18 books, including "Jesus of Nazareth," "Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion," and "Holy Women."

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the RKCMBF UK in Bratislava on April 1, 1992. Download Image HERE

Despite initially praying that he would not be chosen, Benedict was elected Pope in 2005. As Pope, he faced criticism for his handling of the sexual abuse crisis. Although his views on social issues like contraception and homosexuality were met with criticism, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI upheld the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church on these subjects. However, he will also be remembered for his efforts to improve relations with other religions and his emphasis on the importance of faith and reason.

Benedictus XVI in St Peter's Basilica, on May 15th, 2005. Download Image HERE

During his tenure as pope, Benedict XVI authored three influential encyclicals: "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love), "Spe Salvi" (In Hope We Were Saved), and "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth). These works, which addressed a range of theological and social issues, were aimed at defending and promoting the Christian faith in an increasingly secular world. In "Deus Caritas Est," Benedict emphasized the central role of love in the Christian message, while "Spe Salvi" focused on the need for authentic human development. His third encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," brought together the themes of his previous writings and underlined the importance of an encounter with Christ in the pursuit of truth and charity. Through these and other efforts, Benedict sought to shape a lasting legacy as a defender of Catholic doctrine and a force for positive change in the modern world.

Pope Benedict XVI at the Mary Ward 400th Jubilee (2009) - FREE DOWNLOAD

Pope Benedict XVI left a significant impact on the Catholic Church through his dedicated service and contributions. He will be remembered as a complex and deeply reflective individual, whose life and work were shaped by his strong faith and personal experiences. Our condolences go out to all those who knew and loved him, and we pray for his eternal rest.

Pope Benedict XVI placing a novelty crown on Our Lady of Lourdes on occasion for the sick pilgrims, 11 February 2007. Saint Peter's Basilica. Download Image HERE
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.‌‌Et lux perpetua luceat eis.‌‌Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei,‌‌requiescant in pace.‌‌~Amen~‌
Sergio Mattarella paying respect to the body of Pope Benedict XVI (2022) - FREE DOWNLOAD

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Pope Benedict XVI (1927-2022) - created with Midjourney Free Download Here

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