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HomeWorldBenedict XVI, retired pope, dies at 95

Benedict XVI, retired pope, dies at 95

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — He was the reluctant pope, a shy bookworm who preferred solitary walks in the Alps and Mozart piano concertos to the public glare and majesty of Vatican pageantry. When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI and was thrust into the footsteps of his beloved and charismatic predecessor, he said he felt a guillotine had come down on him.

So it should have come as little surprise that with a few words uttered in Latin on a Vatican holiday in 2013, Benedict ended it all, announcing that he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign.

His dramatic exit paved the way for Pope Francis’ election and created the unprecedented arrangement of two popes, living side-by-side in the Vatican gardens. And it likely won’t be a one-off, given that Francis has said Benedict “opened the door” for other popes to follow suit.

The Vatican announced that Benedict died Saturday at his home in the Vatican at age 95. Francis himself will celebrate Benedict’s funeral Mass on Thursday, closing out an unprecedented chapter in the history of the papacy with a reigning pope eulogizing a retired one.

The intellectual German theologian, whose mission was to reawaken Christianity in a secularized and indifferent Europe, was forced to shoulder the brunt of the sex abuse scandal that festered unattended under St. John Paul II. Then, as he planned to make a quiet exit from the papacy, another scandal erupted when his own butler stole his personal papers and gave them to a journalist — leading to revelations that laid bare the need for a reformer pope to clean up the Vatican’s act.

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