Statement on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Published on December 31st, 2022

(CNS/Paul Haring)

Following is a statement by Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

The Bishops of New York State and the staff of the NYS Catholic Conference mourn the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. At the same time, we give thanks to God for the Holy Father’s profoundly consequential ministry as a priest, bishop, cardinal, pope, and, finally, as pope emeritus. It was in the humility of his final role that he paved a new path for viewing the modern papacy.

But humility was nothing new for the pope emeritus, who was born Joseph Ratzinger. Upon Cardinal Ratzinger’s election as Bishop of Rome on April 19, 2005, at age 78, this brilliant theologian, long-time prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Dean of the College of Cardinals, spoke these simple words to the throngs at St. Peter’s Square and people around the world gathered to hear their new pontiff:

After the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard. I am comforted by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments. And above all, I entrust myself to your prayers.

The late pope will long be remembered for his groundbreaking writings as a theologian as a priest and bishop, his preservation and protection of Church doctrine as a cardinal, and his shepherding of the Church as pope following the historic and lengthy tenure of his beloved predecessor. In that time, he was confronted with the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the worldwide Church, and he took decisive action to restore trust and express contrition on her behalf.

“His three encyclicals – Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope), and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) are hailed in equal measure for their profoundness and accessibility.

“Pope Benedict’s writings, witness, and love for the Church, for which he spent the last years of his life in constant prayer, are a gift for all Catholics today and for generations to come.”