(NewsGlobal.com)- On December 31, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away at the age of 95 just days after Pope Francis disclosed during his weekly general audience that Benedict was “very sick.”
During his homily mass on New Year’s Day, Pope Francis paid tribute to his predecessor, expressing his gratitude for the good Benedict has done and his “testimony of faith and prayer.”
The Bavarian-born theologian whose strict Roman Catholicism earned him the nickname “God’s Rottweiller” was the first pope in 600 years to resign the papacy. He spent his final years living in a refurbished monastery in the Vatican, rarely appearing in public with Pope Francis.
However, Benedict continued to advise his much more liberal successor privately, as was evident in 2016 when Pope Francis suddenly took a hard line against LGBT issues after he had previously tried to reach out to the LGBT community.
In August 2016, while meeting with a gathering of Polish bishops, the pope spoke out against schools teaching children that they could choose their gender, telling the bishops to remember Benedict’s words, “It’s the epoch of sin against God the creator.”
Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in Marktl, Germany, Benedict, the son of a police officer, grew up as Nazism began spreading throughout the country.
At 14, like all other German children, Benedict was forced to join the Hitler Youth. Two years later, while still in the seminary, he was conscripted into the German army and sent to the front.
With the Allied victory certain, Benedict deserted the army and returned home. After a brief stint in a prisoner-of-war camp, he returned to the seminary where, on June 29, 1951, Benedict, along with his brother Georg, was ordained a priest.
After spending several years teaching theology, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI. After the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, the conclave of cardinals selected him as the next pontiff. Eight years later, in 2013, Benedict suddenly resigned.