Pope Benedict XVI
Source: Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI Has Died at the Age of 95 After a Rapid Decline in Health

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Dec. 31 2022, Published 6:57 a.m. ET

On Dec. 28, 2022, Pope Francis announced that his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had fallen into ill health. Pope Benedict XVI died on Dec. 31, 2022. The former Pope had been retired for the past nine years after resigning from his post in 2013, an unprecedented move in papal history.

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What was Pope Benedict XVI's cause of death? And why did he resign from his position as the Pope in 2013? Keep reading for everything you need to know about his health status and death.

Pope Benedict XVI
Source: Getty Images
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What was Pope Benedict XVI's cause of death? His health had declined.

According to CNN, on Dec. 28, 2022, Pope Francis encouraged members of the Church to pray for Pope Benedict, who was "very sick." He said, "I want to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict who sustains the Church in his silence. He is very sick," to the general audience at the Vatican.

"We ask the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church to the very end."

A spokesperson for the Vatican later confirmed Pope Benedict's illness, saying, "in the last few hours there has been a deterioration due to the advancement of [Benedict]'s age." This is not the first time Pope Benedict has taken severely ill; in 2020, the Vatican confirmed he was in ill health, suffering from a "painful but not serious condition," following reports from a German newspaper of his decline.

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On Dec. 31, 2022, reports confirmed that Pope Benedict had died. He was 95 years of age at the time of his passing. Currently, there is no confirmation of what specific illness he had.

Pope Benedict XVI
Source: Getty Images
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Why did Pope Benedict XVI resign?

In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his resignation from the papacy. His announcement marked the first time a pope had resigned in more than 600 years. The last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415, who abdicated his position to stop a civil war within the Catholic Church.

Thankfully, Pope Benedict's resignation reasons were less severe. In 2013, he announced that he would be retiring from the papacy after eight years. According to the Independent, he delivered a resignation speech in Latin and said that a "lack of strength of mind and body" was beginning to impact his work, leading him to "recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me."

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