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It is with great sadness that we announce that Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today, Saturday, December 31 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Pope Benedict, whose given name was Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, was born in Marktl, Germany on April 16, 1927. He was ordained a priest in 1951 and became a cardinal in 1977. In 2005, he was elected Pope, succeeding Saint Pope John Paul II.  In 2013, he made the unprecedented decision in modern times to resign from the papacy, citing his advanced age and declining health. After his resignation, he retired to a monastery within the Vatican where he lived and prayed for the Church until his death.

Pope Benedict is remembered for his intelligence, deep faith, and commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church. He was a strong supporter of Catholic education.  During his 2008 address at the Catholic University of America, he reminded Catholic educators that “Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth (cf. Spe Salvi, 4).  He was also a strong advocate for ecumenism and interfaith dialogue.

We offer our prayers of gratitude for his life of service and leadership.  The Vatican reports that his funeral will be held on Thursday, January 5 at 9:30 a.m. CET and and 3:30 a.m. EST. in St. Peter’s Square. The ceremony will be presided over by Pope Francis. Click here to view the funeral via the Vatican's YouTube channel. Pope Benedict will be buried alongside his 148 predecessors who lie in the Vatican Grottoes beneath St. Peter’s Basilica.  Click here to read the Vatican’s official press release.