Nigerian, Russian, French Presidents, others mourn, as former Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95


Late former Pope Benedict XVI.

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*He was admired globally for his dedication to advance inter-faith dialogue and peace – Buhari

*He was defender of traditional Christian values – Putin

By BASHIR ADEFAKA with Agency Reports

Former Pope Benedict XVI has died, aged 95.  He died almost a decade after he stood down having led the Catholic Church for about eight years until 2013 and was replaced by Pope Francis, on the grounds of ailing health.

The DEFENDER gathered that the Pope Emeritus, whose death news broke on Saturday December 31, 2022, passed spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican where he passed away at 09:34 (08:44 GMT) same day.

The Vatican, we gathered, while announcing the death of the late Pontiff informed that his successor, Pope Francis, will lead his funeral on Thursday 5 January, 2023.

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

Bells rang out from Munich cathedral and a single bell was heard ringing from St Peter’s Square in Rome after the former pope’s death was announced.

Nigeria’s President Buhari mourns

On behalf of Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with Pope Francis, the Catholic Church in Nigeria and around the world, as well as all Christian faithful who mourn the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, has said.

In a statement sent to The DEFENDER Saturday evening, President paid tribute to Benedict XVI who, according to the presidential statement, was greatly admired globally for his selfless leadership, renowned learning as a theologian, and dedication to advance inter-faith dialogue and peace.

President Buhari believes that the late Pontiff will be remembered as a true servant of God who used the benevolent gifts of the Almighty upon his life to serve the Church and humanity in humility, reverence and piety, living in word and deed the virtues of a true Christian disciple, Femi Adesina said.

The President prayed that the Pope Emeritus receives eternal embrace in the loving arms of the Lord, whom he served faithfully throughout his vocation.

Head of Catholic in England and Wales reacts

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said Pope Benedict was “one of the great theologians of the 20th century”.

In a statement he said: “I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”

British King Charles, PM Sunak, French Presisdent Macron, Russian President Putin speak

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the former pope “a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country”.

King Charles III said he received the news of Pope Benedict’s death “with deep sadness” and recalled “with fondness” meeting the him during a visit to the Vatican in 2009.

“I also recall his constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the global Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said Pope Benedict “worked with soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world” and said his thoughts went out to Catholics in France and around the world.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said Pope Benedict “was a giant of faith and reason”.

“He put his life at the service of the universal Church and spoke, and will continue to speak, to the hearts and minds of men with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual depth of his Magisterium.”

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said for many, not only in Germany, Pope Benedict was “a formative figure of the Catholic Church, a forthright personality and a clever theologian”.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said the former pope will be remembered for “his untiring efforts to find a common path in promoting peace and goodwill throughout the world”.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said Pope Benedict was “one of the greatest theologians of his age – committed to the faith of the Church and stalwart in its defence”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Pope Benedict as a “defender of traditional Christian values,” in his New Year address to the nation.

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