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The former pope has died. What will happen next?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died Saturday at age 95

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Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday June 8, 2005.

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful during the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday June 8, 2005.

Massimo Sambucetti, Associated Press

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who resigned from the Catholic Church’s leading role in 2013, died on Saturday, four days after Pope Francis called for prayers for his health.

Benedict will be remembered for his efforts to steer the church through various scandals and combat the rising tide of secularization, as well as for his studious nature, according to Catholic experts. He’ll also be remembered as the first pope to resign in 600 years.

“Benedict stunned the world on Feb. 11, 2013, when he announced, in his typical, soft-spoken Latin, that he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church,” The Associated Press reported. “His dramatic decision paved the way for the conclave that elected Pope Francis as his successor. The two popes then lived side-by-side in the Vatican gardens, an unprecedented arrangement that set the stage for future ‘popes emeritus’ to do the same.”

Francis praised Benedict Saturday during a New Year’s Eve vigil, the article said, and also thanked him for his “testimony of faith and prayer.”

“Francis said only God knew ‘of his sacrifices offered for the good of the church,’” The Associated Press reported.

Several other religious and political leaders issued statements Saturday on the former’s pope’s death.

“Jill and I join Catholics and others around the world in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He’ll be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith. May he continue to be an inspiration to all,” tweeted President Joe Biden, who is Catholic.

Who was Pope Benedict?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was born Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in Germany. He became a priest in 1951.

Benedict spent much of his first three decades in the priesthood serving churches in Germany, but transitioned to a role at the Vatican in 1981, Religion News Service reported. There, he took “over the role of prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now the Discastery for the Doctrine of the Faith), charged with addressing important theological and doctrinal matters of the Catholic Church.”

In that role, he worked to uphold the church’s teachings on issues like sexuality and abortion, and also helped formulate a response to clergy sexual abuse, which was emerging as a worldwide problem.

“Ratzinger launched the Vatican’s first efforts to combat clergy abuse and extended canon law to address child pornography, raising the possibility of waiving the statute of limitations and speeding up the procedure to laicize guilty priests,” Religion News Service reported.

Benedict was elected pope in April 2005 at the age of 78. He had not longed for the position and had, instead, been hoping for a quiet retirement, according to The Associated Press.

“Being elected pope, he once said, felt like a “guillotine” had come down on him,” the article said.

Benedict served as head of the Catholic Church for eight years before shocking the church and world with his resignation.

“Benedict announced his resignation in a speech to the cardinals in Latin citing a ‘lack of strength of mind and body.’ He took on the title of pope emeritus and continued to live in a secluded alcove at the Monastery of Mater Ecclesiae at the Vatican. He spent his last days writing and playing the piano in the company of his beloved multicolored tabby cat,” Religion News Service reported.

What will happen next?

A funeral for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will take place Thursday, Jan. 5, at the Vatican. Starting Monday, “Benedict’s body will be on public display in St. Peter’s Basilica ... for the faithful to pay their final respects,” The Associated Press reported.

Despite Benedict’s worldwide fame, Thursday’s funeral is expected to be a quiet affair.

“In keeping with Benedict’s request for a simple funeral and also to underscore he is no longer pope, the Vatican only invited official delegations from Germany and Italy to attend, while other leaders can participate in their private capacity,” according to The Associated Press.

The funeral will mark “the first time in the modern age that a current pope will eulogize a retired one,” the article said.