World leaders are mourning the passing of former Pope Benedict XVI, praising his “devotion to the Church”.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died on Saturday morning in the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in the Vatican.
In 2013m Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to resign. He had grown increasingly frail during his almost 10 years of retirement.
Pope Francis has praised Benedict’s “kindness” in his first public comments since the death of the retired pontiff.
Francis thanked Benedict on Saturday for “his testimony of faith and prayer, especially in these final years of retired life”.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has paid tribute to Benedict as “a humble man of prayer and study”
Guterres said the late pontiff was “principled in his faith, tireless in his pursuit of peace, and determined in his defence of human rights”.
He added that Benedict “was a spiritual guide to millions around the world and one of the leading academic theologians of our time”.
Guterres offered his “deepest condolences to Catholics and others around the world who were inspired by his life of prayer and tenacious commitment to non-violence and peace”.
US President Joe Biden said Benedict “will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith”.
Biden — a church-going Catholic who differs with the church’s teaching on abortion and some other social issues — issued a statement recalling a meeting with Benedict at the Vatican in 2011. Biden recalled Benedict’s “generosity and welcome as well as our meaningful conversation”.
Biden said, “May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all.”
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom’s King Charles III said he received the news of Benedict’s death “with deep sadness”, saying he fondly remembers meeting with the former pontiff 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,” Charles said in a message to Pope Francis on Saturday.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also paying tribute to the German-born Benedict as a “formative figure of the Catholic Church”.
Scholz said on Twitter that “as the ‘German’ pope, Benedict XVI was a special church leader for many, not just in this country.”
Germany’s president, for his part, praised the late pope’s dedication to dialogue between Christian denominations and other religions.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a message of condolences to Pope Francis that “the election of a pope from the motherland of the Reformation and an intellectual who had made the dialogue between faith and reason his life’s task was an important signal for many people around the world.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Twitter that Benedict’s teaching was a “guide post among the many winding and deceptive paths of the contemporary world”.
Duda’s office said he plans to attend Benedict’s funeral.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Benedict was a “great Catholic thinker, a spiritual authority, and a modest person who was nonetheless a person of very great format”, whose “spiritual and intellectual legacy will ever remain important to us”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Benedict as “a prominent religious figure and statesman [and] a staunch defender of traditional Christian values”.
A telegram to Pope Francis published on the Kremlin website said that, during Benedict’s papacy, full diplomatic relations were established between Russia and the Vatican “and relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches were developed”.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has remembered Benedict for his work in dealing with abuse by members of the clergy and for reaching out to Indigenous people affected by residential schools.
“As Canadians we are especially grateful for his efforts to heal the wounds of our past,” the bishops said in a statement.
“He publicly acknowledged the scourge of abuse by these clergy, apologized for it, and strengthened Church processes to respond to allegations, including facilitating the prosecution or suspension from the clerical state those found responsible for abuse,” the statement said.
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church also mourned the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
The church and its spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II, hailed Benedict in a statement as “the best successor to the best predecessor” who spent his entire life in “the service of his Roman Catholic Church”.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella said the death of the pope emeritus is a cause for grief for the entire country.
Mattarella said that “his sweetness and his wisdom had benefitted our community and the entire international community.”
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called Pope Benedict XVI a “giant of faith and reason” that history will never forget.
In a statement, she praised his lifelong service to the church and ability to “speak to the hearts and minds of people with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual profundity of his magisterium”.
Ireland’s president has paid tribute to Benedict, highlighting his interest in promoting peace in Northern Ireland.
President Michael D Higgins said in a statement that “at this time of the return of war on our continent and in so many areas of the world, he will be remembered for his untiring efforts to find a common path in promoting peace.”
Taiwan’s government has mourned Benedict’s death, saying the late Pope will be “remembered for his humility and caring for all humanity”.
The Vatican is Chinese-claimed Taiwan’s sole European diplomatic ally, and Taipei has watched with concern as Pope Francis has moved to improve relations with China. The democratically governed island has formal ties with only 14 countries, largely due to Chinese pressure.
In a statement late on Saturday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she has appointed former Vice President Chen Chien-jen, a devout Catholic, as her special envoy to the funeral “based on the deep friendship between our country and the Vatican”.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has expressed his condolences on the death of Benedict.
The foreign ministry said Kishida also referred to the great contributions Benedict made towards world peace.
He said Japan was greatly moved by a message Benedict sent after the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster, spiritually uplifting the people of Japan.
In predominantly Lutheran Norway, the Catholic bishop of Oslo, Bernt Ivar Eidsvig, called Benedict “the last great theologian of the past 100 years”.
Eidsvig told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that “He masters all the theological subjects. I cannot think of anyone else who does.”
The head of the Lutheran Church of Sweden has expressed his sympathies with Catholics worldwide.
Archbishop Martin Modeus wrote on Twitter that “our churches have different traditions and our ways of thinking have sometimes differed, but Benedict XVI had a great impact on the rapprochement of Lutherans and Catholics in the last 50 years”.