Condolences From International Leaders On The Death Of Benedict XVI

From U.S. President Joe Biden to King Charles III of the United Kingdom: These Are the Condolences of International Leaders on the Death of Benedict XVI

Added to French President Emmanuelle Macron’s condolences are those of the President of Italy and the British Prime Minister as well as of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the Primate of the Anglican Church.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 01.01.2023).-Following the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, several international leaders expressed condolences to the Catholic Church.

In a press release, the White House make known a statement from President Biden and his wife:

“Jill and I join Catholics around the world, and so many others, in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I had the privilege of spending time with Pope Benedict at the Vatican in 2011 and will always remember his generosity and welcome as well as our meaningful conversation. He will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith. As he remarked during his 2008 visit to the White House, “the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity.” May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all.

In another press release, the U.S. Department State said:

“The United States mourns the passing of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus — a holy man, witness to faith, and once Shepherd of the Catholic faithful.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a dedicated leader and was committed to interfaith dialogue.  He was an advocate for vulnerable persons, including refugees, internally displaced persons, and migrants.  He supported international legal measures to defend them.  He was a renowned theologian within the Catholic Church for decades.

We offer our deepest condolences to the Catholic faithful around the world, the Holy See, and all those whose lives were enriched by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s spiritual guidance.”

Other world powers also expressed their solidarity and shared their diplomatic condolences. Through the Website of the Elysée Palace French President Emmanuelle Macron said:

“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has left us, having marked the Church with the seal of his theological erudition and working tirelessly for a more fraternal world.

Born Joseph Ratzinger in 1927, he grew up in a modest Bavarian family which taught him a love of the piano, letters, history, and the fierce rejection of any form of fascism. His parents also transmitted their deep piety to him, so much so that at the age of 7, little Joseph asked for a Missal and a priest’s chasuble as a Christmas present. But while his mind turned to the priesthood, that of his contemporaries allowed itself to be plagued by Nazism. Like all his generation, he had to submit to the Hitler Youth at fourteen, then at sixteen to military service. Ulcerated by the ambient fanaticism, the young man refused to integrate the Waffen-SS, deserted his regiment in favour of the debacle, but was recaptured, and spent six weeks in prison before the German capitulation freed him. 

The intellectual effervescence of his seminary years made him understand that his vocation as a priest was inseparable from a destiny as a theologian and university student. For he never dissociated religion from reason. He had faith in God, and faith in the human spirit, in its ability to tirelessly clear the paths to transcendence. 

The power of his writings earned him to be chosen to participate in the Vatican Council II. He was then considered a reformist, a paradoxical reputation for a pope so often described later as a conservative. No doubt he deserved both labels at the same time: his reformism had a conservative aim, returning to past sources to revitalize the present. It mattered little to him not to follow the wind of liberalization of May 68, because the Church had in his eyes a mission of prophetic contradiction which it had to assume with courage. Appointed archbishop then cardinal by Paul VI, he was chosen five years later by John Paul II to direct the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spearhead of the doctrinal reflection of the Church. During the 24 years he spent at its head, then during his eight years of pontificate, he never ceased to deepen the mystery of the Christian faith, built dams against progressive currents and consolidated the tradition of the Church in matters of liturgy, priestly celibacy or bioethics. He also worked for interreligious and ecumenical rapprochement by building fraternal bridges between believers, in particular between Catholics and Orthodox.

Far from seeking the fusion of the State and the Church, he recalled the importance of a distinction between the religious and the political, whose mutual independence does not imply indifference, but dialogue. He also invited Christians to invest themselves as citizens. His encyclicals call for a respectful globalization which redistributes resources between rich and poor, for a human economy which retains the sense of giving and sharing, for an integral ecology which respects the planet as well as the dignity of man.

His affection for France earned him the appointment of a foreign member of our Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. The years of seminary had allowed him to imbue his thoughts with the writings of Bergson, Sartre or Camus, to fall in love with Claudel, Bernanos, Mauriac or Maritain. These intellectual affinities had been enriched by human friendships, woven over the course of his exchanges of his travels to Paris and his exchanges with the French prelates and theologians who exercised a strong influence on the Vatican Council II, in particular the future cardinals Daniélou , from Lubac and Congar. While he was still only Cardinal Ratzinger, he was Pope John Paul II’s delegate for the sixtieth anniversary of the Normandy landings, and, having become His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, he toured France in September 2008,

His demands on himself were as high as his acceptance of his mission. This is why, faced with the decline of his physical strength, he made a decision unheard of for centuries, that of renouncing the chair of Peter. From then on becoming pope emeritus, he led a life of silence and prayer in the shadow of a monastery.

The President of the Republic salutes an enlightened interlocutor of France in its construction of a ‘positive secularism,’ which knew how to bring the Church bruised by the storms of the 20th century into its third millennium. He sends his sincere condolences to Catholics in France and throughout the world.”

From his native Germany, German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote his condolences to Pope Francis on the death of Pope Benedict XVI:

“We in Germany were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict XVI. 

His faith, his intellect, his wisdom and his humility as a human being always profoundly impressed me.

As a fellow countryman, this Pope bore a very special significance for us Germans also beyond the bounds of the universal Roman Catholic Church. For many people across the world, the election of a Pope from the home of the Reformation and of an intellectual who had made the dialogue between faith and reason his life’s work sent an important signal.

The unity of Christendom, inter-faith dialogue and the coexistence of religion and society were matters particularly close to his heart. He sought dialogue with Jews and Muslims and with all Christian denominations throughout the world.

High theological and philosophical concepts already combined with comprehensible language in the work of Professor Joseph Ratzinger. For this reason, many people, not only Roman Catholics, found clear orientation in his writings and addresses. He faced up to people’s searching and questioning.

At the latest as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was confronted with the grim problem of global sexual abuse and its systematic cover-up. This placed a special responsibility upon him. Benedict was aware of the victims’ great suffering and the huge damage done to the Church’s credibility.

Benedict decided to resign at the moment when he was sure he could no longer exercise his office with the necessary strength and energy. This was an unexpected turning point in the history of the Church.

Bound as Pope to serve the entire world, he nonetheless retained lasting ties to his Bavarian home, which deeply shaped his faith. We Germans could sense this during his visits to and speeches in Germany. Many people have unforgettable memories of his visits to World Youth Day in Cologne, Berlin, Eichsfeld and Freiburg.

Benedict was the first Pope to address an elected German parliament. His words on the foundations of a free state of law and democracy, on human dignity and on ecology, sparked lively debates not only in Germany and spurred the search for truth both by individuals and by society.

Deus Caritas Est (God is Love)”: this, the title of his first encyclical, reflects Benedict’s profound conviction, which was a strength and stay to many people all over the world.

Germany mourns Pope Benedict XVI and will remember his work.”

From the United Kingdom, the British Prime Minister said: “I am saddened by the news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He was a great theologian whose visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 was a historic moment, both for Catholics as well as non-Catholics of our country. My thoughts today are with the Catholics of the United kingdom and of the whole world. For his part, King Charles III, Successor of Queen Elizabeth II, wrote the following to Pope Francis: 

I received with profound sadness the news of the death of your Predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I remember with fondness my meeting with His Holiness during my visit to the Vatican in 2009. His visit to the United Kingdom in 2010 was important in strengthening the relations between the Holy See and the United Kingdom.

I also recall his constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the global Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.  

My wife and I send you our continued good wishes for your own pontificate.

From Italy, country with which Vatican City shares borders, President Sergio Mattarella said this death means mourning for the country:

The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is mourning for Italy. His kindness and wisdom benefitted our community and the whole international community. He continued to serve with dedication the cause of his Church in the unprecedented office of Pope Emeritus with humility and serenity. His figure continues being unforgettable for the Italian people. An intellectual and theologian, he interpreted with fineness the reasons for dialogue, peace and the dignity of the person as supreme interests of the religions. We remember his witness and his example with gratitude.

 Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Photo: Italian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

 Religious Leaders Also Express Their Sympathy

However, not only political but also religious leaders have expressed all these gestures. It is the case of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of the Anglican Communion. In a press release, he said: 

“Today I join with the Church throughout the world, and especially with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and all in the Catholic Church, in mourning the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

In Pope Benedict’s long life and ministry of service to Christ in His Church he saw many profound changes in the Church and in the world. He lived through the Nazi regime in Germany and served briefly in the Second World War. As a younger theologian and priest he witnessed first-hand the discussions of the Second Vatican Council. As a professor and then as an Archbishop he lived in a divided Germany but saw, too, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of his homeland.

Pope Benedict was one of the greatest theologians of his age — committed to the faith of the Church and stalwart in its defence. In all things, not least in his writing and his preaching, he looked to Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God. It was abundantly clear that Christ was the root of his thought and the basis of his prayer.

In 2013 Pope Benedict took the courageous and humble step to resign the papacy, the first Pope to do so since the fifteenth century. In making this choice freely he acknowledged the human frailty that affects us all. In his retirement in Rome he has led a life of prayer and now he has gone to the eternal rest granted by the Father. In his life and ministry Pope Benedict strove to direct people to Christ. May he now rest in Christ’s peace, and rise in glory with all the Saints.”

For his part, Patriarch Kirill also sent a message of condolences to Pope Francis. The gesture has been interpreted by the specialized press in the Vatican as a thawing in ecclesiastical relations given the war in Ukraine.

“I received with sadness the news of the death of your Predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The many years of life of His Holiness marked a whole period in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, which he led in a difficult historical period associated with numerous external and internal challenges. 

Benedict XVI’s unquestionable authority as eminent theologian enabled him to contribute significantly to the development of inter-Christian cooperation, to the witness of Christ in face of a secularized world, and to the defense of traditional moral values. 

Having had the opportunity to meet the deceased Pope personally on several occasions during his mandate on the throne of Rome, I had the opportunity to witness his profound love for Eastern Christianity and, in particular, his sincere respect of the Russian Orthodox tradition. During Benedict XVI’s pontificate, relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church developed considerably in the spirit of fraternal cooperation and the desire of interaction on the path of surmounting the legacy, at times painful, of the past. 

In the name of the Russian Orthodox Church, I express my condolences to you and to the flock of the Roman Catholic Church in regard to its loss. May the merciful Lord, whose humble labourer in the vineyard the deceased Pontiff called himself on the day of his election [receive him] who leaves an eternal memory.”

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

Licenciado en filosofía por el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, de Roma, y “veterano” colaborador de medios impresos y digitales sobre argumentos religiosos y de comunicación. En la cuenta de Twitter:, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

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