Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI 1927-2022

Catholics around New Zealand are offering prayers for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who has died in Rome aged 95.

Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington and President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, said each of the six New Zealand dioceses would likely have a memorial Mass for Pope Benedict.

“The Church in New Zealand, with Catholics all over the world, will offer prayers for the Emeritus Pope, and he will be remembered in Masses around the country,” said Cardinal Dew.

“He will be remembered as a very good theologian and for me as a very kind and cultured gentleman who will obviously go down in history as the first Pope to resign in 600 years. Many people saw that as a brave and wise decision, as he acknowledged that he no longer had the strength to lead the Church.

“We should also express gratitude for his life of prayer for the Church in his retirement,” said Cardinal Dew.

Pope Emeritus Benedict died at 9.34pm New Zealand time (9.34am in Rome) on Saturday 31 December in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican, where he had lived since his papal retirement.

Born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany, in 1927, Benedict XVI led the world-wide Catholic Church from April 2005 until February 2013, becoming the first Pope to resign in office since Gregory XII in 1415.

Before being elected to replace Pope John Paul II, the then Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the Vatican’s most influential departments, from 1981 to 2005.

His successor, Pope Francis, will preside over the funeral of the Pope Emeritus this Thursday 5 January at 9.30am Rome time (9.30pm NZ time) in the Vatican’s St Peter's Square. Pope Francis will celebrate the Requiem Mass, the first time a sitting pope has celebrated the funeral of his predecessor since 1802.

Read more:
• Official Vatican obituary for Benedict XVI.
• Newshub (TV3) video story including interview with Cardinal Dew.
• Radio NZ interview with Cardinal Dew.
• Food for Faith podcast on Benedict XVI with Fr John O’Connor.
Condolences from King Tuheitia, the Māori King.
• Benedict XVI Requiem Mass details.
• January 5 RNZ Morning Report preview of funeral, includes Cardinal Dew interview.

Update 11pm Thursday 5 January NZ time:
The Requiem Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has finished (see photo below). This link is to the official Vatican News report on the service, which was celebrated by Pope Francis. The report includes video highlights of the funeral, plus a video of the entire service.