10 Facts About Pope Benedict XVI: The First Pope To Resign in Over 600 Years

10 Facts About Pope Benedict XVI: The First Pope To Resign in Over 600 Years

  • Pope Benedict XVI was a man of many things during his life time in the papacy and after papacy
  • He his mostly known for stepping down as the head of the Roman Catholic after eight years as Pope
  • Before being Pope, he was named in the list of the 100 most influential people in the world by Times Magazine

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The news about the demise of Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI on Saturday, December 31 brought about global sympathy and tribute across several countries.

In this short piece, Legit.ng looks at the life and time of Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI and some ten basic facts about the former Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI is the first in 600 years to step down from the sacred position. Photo: Marco Secchi
Source: Getty Images

1. His real name

The former Pope was not born into the papacy neither was his birth name Benedict XVI as he was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger.

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He was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany where he got baptised on that same day.

2. Becoming the first Pope to resign in over 600 years

On the last day of February 2015, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world as he announced his resignation from the papacy.

According to the New York Times, he became the third Pope to step down in the history of Roman Catholicism and also the first to step down in over 600 years.

Agostino Paravicini Bagliani a historian revealed that Pope Celestine V in 1294 became the first to break the tradition of Papacy by stepping down.

Upon his resignation, he retired to be a monk and was later imprisoned by Pope Boniface VIII who took over the role of the papacy. While behind bars, he died in 1296 two years after his imprisonment.

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Similarly, in 1415 Pope Gregory XII stepped down from his position as the head of the Roman Catholic. He, however, retired to being a cardinal.

3. Retaining the status of Pope

Upon his resignation from his position as the head of the Roman Catholic, Benedict XVI unlike other Pope who stepped down from Papacy retained the title of the Pope but was preferably referred to as "Pope emeritus".

4. Criticism and controversies

As reported by the New York Times, Pope Benedict XVI was mostly criticised for being too soft in addressing sexual abuse in the church.

It was gathered that Benedict XVI in his time as Pope was the first-ever head of the Roman Catholic to apologise one on one to victims of sexual assault in the church.

Despite all these, some of the victims and survivors still questioned his approach against sexual violence in the church perpetrated by some priests.

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He was also critiqued for not holding those at the helm of affairs at the Vatican accountable and responsible for their misdeeds.

5. Ordination into priesthood

Before he became the head of Roman Catholic, he was first ordained into the priesthood in 1951 where he served in Germany.

In 1977, 26 years after being ordained as a priest, he became the archbishop of Munich and Freising.

Also, in 1977 shortly after being named archbishop, he was named a cardinal.

6. In 1981, the then-Pope John Paul II invited him to Rome and he became the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He was immediately saddled with the role overseeing the church's orthodoxy, which is known to be one of Roman Catholic's sacred position at the Vatican.

7. Times Magazine 100 most influential people in the world.

Before being Pope in 2005, he made the list of Times Magazine 100 most influential people in the world as Cardinal Ratzinger.

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8. Choice of name 'Benedict XVI'

As earlier stated, Pope Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger.

During the process of becoming Pope in 2005, he chose the name 'Benedict' which means "the blessed" in Latin.

His choice of name was inspired by Pope Benedict XV and ancient Italian monk Benedict of Nursia.

9. The longest living Pope in history

Pope Benedict XVI became the longest-lived pope on 4 September 2020 at 93 years, 4 months, 16 days, eclipsing the age of Pope Leo XIII.

10. 70th anniversary as a priest

Pope Benedict XVI in retirement marked his Platinum Jubilee (70th anniversary) as a priest since he was first ordained in 1951.

Former Catholic Pope Benedict XVI dies at age 95, Vatican confirms

Meanwhile, a few hours after Pope Francis confirmed the health status of Benedict XVI, he passed away at the age of 95.

His demise was announced by the Vatican on Saturday, December 31 after days of struggle with his health.

Pope Benedict XVI died at his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where he retired after his resignation as a Pope in 2013.

Source: Legit.ng

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