President Michael D. Higgins extended his sympathies to the family of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Catholics globally, on the passing of the former pontiff today.
The Vatican announced the death of former Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday morning, shortly before 10am
President Higgins said that Benedict XVI will be remembered for his intellectual work, which was respected by both supporters and critics alike.
He also praised the Pope Emeritus for promoting peace, including in Northern Ireland, and highlighting the common purpose of major global religions.
Cardinal Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger was elected to the papacy after the death of John Paul II in 2005, and was known for being far more orthodox and conservative than both his predecessor, and successor.
He also received criticism for his handling of the child sex abuse scandal in Ireland and elsewhere.
While Benedict was harshly critical of how Ireland’s bishops handled allegations of child abuse, under his tenure the Vatican was not cooperative with civil authorities in investigating sexual abuse.
He resigned in 2013, the first Pope to do so in more than six centuries, and attributed his decision to health reasons.
In the years since then, he has largely stayed out of the public eye, before passing away at the age of 95 after battling illness.
President Higgins’ full statement reads:
“It is with sadness that Catholics around the world will have learned of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
At this time of the return of war on our continent and in so many areas of the world, he will be remembered for his untiring efforts to find a common path in promoting peace and goodwill throughout the world, including a steadfast interest in peace in Northern Ireland.
He will be remembered too for the value he attached to intellectual work and for the personal commitment he gave to such within the Roman Catholic Church, this work being respected by both supporters and critics.
Of particular importance was that during his tenure, Pope Benedict sought to highlight both the common purpose of the world’s major religions and his injunctions as to how our individual responsibilities as citizens require the highest standards of ethics in our actions.
May I extend my condolences to his family, to Pope Francis, to Archbishop Eamon Martin, to his friends and colleagues, and to all members of the Catholic faith both in Ireland and across the world.”