The last pope to step down in 600 years was the former Pope Benedict, who breathed his last on Saturday at the age of 95.
Vatican City: The last pope to step down in 600 years was the former Pope Benedict, who breathed his last on Saturday at the age of 95. He left behind a Catholic Church divided between conservatives and progressives, plagued by scandals surrounding sexual abuse, and mired in mismanagement.
Benedict, the first German pope in 1,000 years, had cordial relations with Pope Francis, but his continued presence inside the Vatican following his resignation in 2013 further polarised the Church’s ideological divisions.
By his own admission, Benedict was a weak leader who struggled to assert himself within the secretive Vatican bureaucracy and stumbled from crisis to crisis during his eight-year rule. Benedict was a piano-playing professor and a formidable theologian.
Benedict frequently apologised for the Church’s inability to stop priestly sexual abuse of minors and became the first pope to take stern action against the culprits.
In 2022, a third-party investigation in his native Germany claimed that Benedict had ignored four allegations of abuse while he served as the Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.
The moment Benedict shocked the world by announcing his resignation on Feb. 11, 2013, and informing the cardinals he was too old and fragile to manage an organisation with more than 1.3 billion members, his verdict will go down in history as his most notable accomplishment.
In front of more than 150,000 people, Benedict said, “There were times of joy and brightness, but there were also moments that were not easy.” There were moments… when the waves were rough and the wind blew against us, and it seemed that the Lord was asleep.