South African Catholic Bishops Conference pays tribute to former Pope Benedict XVI

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The South African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) has paid tribute to the former Pope Benedict the XVI who has died at his Vatican residence. He was 95-years-old. Former Pope Benedict, became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign in 2013.

He was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in the southern German village of Marktl, close to Austria.

Benedict died almost a decade after he stepped down due to ill-health – becoming the first pope in 600 years to take such action. He was chosen to lead the Catholic Church in 2005. Father Phuti Makgabo from the South African Catholic Bishops Conference:

“For us he is a man who’s always been our father, in our faith- in the Catholic faith, and so we are on the part of the church asking every person in his or her capacity to continue to pray for the church- that we may continue to have leaders like him in the Catholic church. He’s a man who never minced his words, he was a man who was very clear as to his stand point- so, you knew where he stood. He’s a man that we can proudly say- he’s the man who defended the church.”

Catholic Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at 95: SACBC’s Father Phuti Makgabo reflects on his legacy:

Bells tolled across the tiny Vatican City as news of his death spread to the faithful on an unusually warm, sunny day. The Vatican said his body would lie in state from Monday in St.Peter’s Basilica and his funeral will be held on the morning of Jan. 5. Pope Francis will preside over the ceremony, which will take place in the huge square in front of the basilica.

Leaders were swift in sending their condolences for Benedict, who was the first German pope in 1,000 years. “A Christian, a pastor, a theologian: (he was) a great man who history will not forget,” said Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Benedict “worked with all his soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world”, while Markus Soeder, the state premier of his native Bavaria in Germany, hailed him as “one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century”.  –Additional reporting Reuters

Breaking News| Catholic Pope Emeritus Benedict the Sixteenth dies at 95: