UK PM Sunak ‘saddened’ by death of ‘great theologian’ Benedict

Rishi Sunak

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Saturday that he was “saddened” by the death of former pope Benedict XVI at the age of 95, calling him a “great theologian”.

“I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Sunak tweeted. “He was a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country.”

 the Vatican announced Saturday, almost a decade after he became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries.

His death brings to an end an unprecedented situation in which two “men in white” — Benedict and his successor Pope Francis — had co-existed within the walls of the tiny city state.

“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

His body will be displayed from Monday morning in the solemn setting of Saint Peter’s Basilica, to allow the faithful to pay their respects.

The German pope emeritus, whose birth name was Joseph Ratzinger, had been living a quiet life in a former convent inside the Vatican grounds since his shock decision to step down in February 2013.

His health had been declining for a long time, but the Vatican revealed on Wednesday that his situation had worsened, while Francis called for Catholics worldwide to pray for him.

While there is no rulebook for former popes, Benedict’s funeral is expected to be at the Vatican, presided over by Francis.

In 2005 the body of John Paul II, the last pope to die, lay in state before a funeral mass in St Peter’s Square attended by one million people, including heads of state.

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