Pope Benedict XVI, a prominent religious figure, served as head of both the Vatican City State and the Catholic Church.
After Pope John Paul II’s death in April 2005, he was elected in a papal conclave and served as Pope until his resignation in February 2013.
In a similar vein, Benedict was given the title “Pope Emeritus” upon his resignation and remained so until his death in December 2022 at the age of 95.
Church in Scandals Amid Pope Benedict XVI Controversy
According to PBS, Pope Benedict’s presidency was defined by a conservative defense of church theology and difficulties in responding to the clerical sex abuse problem.
As a result of the Vati-Leaks of 2012, which revealed scandals involving extortion, prostitution, and power conflicts within the Vatican, the Catholic Church, and the Pope were thrust into the spotlight.
Some doubt the official explanation for his resignation, which cites a lack of stamina and his “advanced age” of 85 as the reasons.
The Pope has stated that his resignation is voluntary and “for the good of the church.” But some insist on finding more explanation.
Benedict’s recent initiatives to revitalize the Roman Catholic Church have been overshadowed by the ongoing clergy sexual abuse issue.
Benedict met with victims and offered apologies on occasion during his eight years in office. But he couldn’t deny that the Church had protected priests who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
Benedict’s departure has been linked to the serious claims of clergy sexual abuse of minors and the alleged cover-up of those crimes by bishops.
On February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from office due to his senior age. Since Gregory XII in 1415, he was the first head to resign.
In a statement, Benedict explained that he was leaving the papacy due to his declining health and the stress of the position.
On February 11, it was announced that Francis would no longer serve as Pope since the world had changed so drastically and so swiftly that he was “no longer suited” to the position.
He said a few words to his fellow cardinals in Latin announcing his departure. Furthermore, he promised to continue his service to the Vatican “through a life dedicated to prayer.”
By the time his retirement took effect, Benedict had reached the fourth-oldest age ever for a Pope.
This change came as a surprise because all living popes in contemporary history have served until their deaths. Since Celestine V in 1294, Benedict was the first pope to retire without being forced out of office.
In a statement, the Vatican clarified that the retirement was not caused by illness but rather to “avoid that exhausting rush of Easter engagements.”
After two weeks of goodbye ceremonies, Benedict XVI stepped down as Pope on March 13, 2013, and was succeeded by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis).
One year after his departure, Benedict addressed an article in La Stampa in which he refuted rumors that he had been driven out of office.
He remarked, “There is not the slightest doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the ministry,” implying that any doubts about the legitimacy of his resignation were completely groundless.