Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI

Remembering Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, first pontiff to resign in 600 years

Noah Ferrizzi, Web Editor-in-Chief

On Saturday, Dec. 31, the world lost Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The pontiff is remembered as the first Pope in over 600 years to resign from the papacy.

Born Joseph Ratzinger in Marktl, Germany, Benedict lived under Nazi rule and was forced to join Hitler’s youth and was conscripted into the German military (something required of all German boys at the time) before he ultimately deserted. Benedict then became a priest and began to write.

A young Jospeh Ratzinger as a priest after his deserting of the German military. (Photo courtesy of La Stampa)

Benedict was appointed Pope in 2005 after Saint Pope John Paul II’s passing.

“I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War,” Benedict said.

Benedict began to write about theology before his appointment as Pope. His post second Vatican council work “Introduction to Christianity” garnered him much praise.

“Perhaps more than any other text Benedict wrote, this one (Introduction to Christianity) shows him as a teacher,” Cyril O’Reagan, the Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame said.

Benedict faced many challenges during his papacy the greatest of which being the numerous sex abuse scandals (which started to flair up during his predecessor’s papacy).

“Ratzinger tried as early as 1988 to persuade the Vatican legal department to let him remove abuser priests quickly,” Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press said.

He resigned on Dec. 11, 2013 in a speech called Decleratio.

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God,” Benedict said. “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

Pope Benedict gives resignation speech: Decrelatio in Latin. (Photo courtesy of Crisis Magazine)

However, Benedict is not remembered for the many other things he was. He was the first German Pope in over 1000 years, a trained classical pianist and knew nine languages: “German, Spanish, Italian, French, English, Portuguese, Latin, Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Greek” (Babbel magazine).

Benedict leaves in a unique circumstance as the church has already elected a new Pope, and Benedict has recognized Pope Francis as the true successor.

However, many still mourn the death of the Pope. Some called him the “Rottweiler” due to his stout defense of the Catholic faith and doctrine.

Benedict’s body will lie at Saint Peter’s Basilica until Thursday, Jan. 5, when his funeral will be led by Pope Francis.

Archpriest Mauro Gambetti pays final respects to Pope Benedict’s body. (Photo courtesy of Vatican Media)

“Lord, I love you!” Benedict said.

They were his final words as he died at 95.