Former Pope Benedict XVI Dies: Honors God in Final Letter

Former Pope Benedict XVI died Saturday in a monastery in the Vatican at the age of 95. In a spiritual testament that came out after his death, he asked for forgiveness from those he had “wronged.”

A statement from the Vatican says that Benedict died on Saturday. He was the first pope in almost 600 years to step down instead of staying in office for life.

After John Paul II died in April 2005, he was chosen to be pope. During the testament, which was a letter with the pope’s last words, Benedict talked about the “many reasons” he had to be thankful for his life.

In the letter from August 29, 2006, the former pope thanked God for guiding him “well” throughout life. He also expressed gratitude to his parents who he said gave him “life in a difficult time.” He then thanked his sister for her “selfless” help and thanked his brother for giving him “clarity of judgement.”

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Benedict was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who has softened the Vatican’s stances on abortion and homosexuality and done more to deal with the sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the church in recent years and tarnished Benedict’s legacy.

Benedict Asked for Forgiveness

In April 2019, Benedict wrote a public letter about the sex abuse crisis. He said that it was partly caused by the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the church’s moral teachings becoming less strict.

In January 2020, Benedict had to distance himself from a book that many people saw as an attack on Francis, who was thinking about letting married men become priests in some cases. The book “From the Depths of Our Hearts” made a case for the Catholic Church’s centuries-old tradition of priests not getting married. Benedict was listed as a co-author at first, but he later said that he had only written one section of the text.

After a church-ordered report about abuse by Catholic clergy in Munich and Freising came out a year later, Benedict was criticised for his time as archbishop of those cities from 1977 to 1982.

In his letter from 2006, the former pope asked “sincerely” for “forgiveness” from anyone he had “wronged in any way.” In his final words, the former pope “humbly” asked God, despite all his “sins and flaws,” to let him into heaven.

In a separate letter published by the Vatican in February 2022, Benedict apologized to survivors of abuse in general. He wrote, “Once again, I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my deep shame, my deep sorrow, and my heartfelt request for forgiveness,” but he did not admit to any personal or specific wrongdoing.

There is no reason to think that his final letter asking for forgiveness has anything to do with how the Catholic Church handles claims of sexual abuse against priests.

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