Pope Benedict XVI, who served as the head of the Catholic Church from 2005 until he became the first pope to resign in 600 years in 2013, died Saturday at the age of 95. Pope Francis, Benedict's successor, had informed the public that Benedict was "very sick" earlier in the week.
Born Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany, the pope emeritus was, even in retirement, "embraced by traditionalists as the embodiment of their ideals," The Washington Post writes. "His death leaves that movement — which is at times vocal and oppositional to Francis — without a figure of comparable clout." Praised as a "giant of faith and reason" by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Saturday, "critics are more likely to remember [Benedict] as a crusher of dissent who did far too little to address sexual abuse in the church, stumbled in some of his public declarations, and lacked the charisma of his predecessor, John Paul II," The New York Times adds.
In keeping with Benedict's wishes, the Vatican said the former pope's remains will be on public display in St. Peter's Basilica starting Monday, with a "solemn but sober funeral" to follow.