Cardinal Nichols 'deeply saddened' by death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI 1927 - 2022Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has expressed his sadness over the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Benedict, who was pope from 2005 until his resignation in 2013, died on Saturday morning at the age of 95.

Commenting on his passing, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said, "I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict.

"He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century." 

The Cardinal said he remembered "with particular affection" Benedict's "remarkable" papal visit to the UK in 2010.

The four-day visit in September 2010 took Benedict to various cities across Scotland and England during which time he met the late Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other religious leaders, the Prime Minister and other key political figures. He also beatified Cardinal Newman. 

Also paying tribute to the Pope Emeritus was his former spokesperson, Fr Federico Lombardi, who said that Benedict had "given us a beautiful testimony of how to live in faith the growing frailty of old age for many years until the end".

"The fact that he gave up the papacy at an opportune time allowed him - and us with him - to walk this path with great serenity," he said.

He continued, "He was not afraid of confrontation with different ideas and positions. He looked with loyalty and foresight at the great questions, at the darkening of God's presence on the horizon of contemporary humanity, at the questions about the future of the Church, particularly in his country and in Europe.

"And he tried to face the problems with loyalty, without evading them even if they were dramatic; but faith and the intelligence of faith allowed him always to find a perspective of hope."