Local Catholic leaders react to death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Retired Pope’s Ailing Health Raises Questions Of What’s Next

Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd gathered in front of his former private home in Rome, Wednesday, April 20, 2005. The Pontiff, former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, exited the Vatican City Wednesday for a quick visit to his former home in Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

MADISON, Wis. — Local Catholic leaders reacted Saturday following the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Benedict was elected pope in 2005 following the death of Pope Saint John Paul II, and was the first pontiff since 1415 to resign. He died early Saturday morning.

“We are all grateful for his generous service to the Church, as a priest, theologian, professor, bishop, cardinal, and for his leadership of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith during the pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II, and his fruitful years as our Holy Father, the pope,” Diocese of Madison Bishop Donald Hying said.

Throughout his near-decade as pope, Benedict advocated for a return to Catholic values in an increasingly secular world. He encouraged the use of Latin and canonized 45 people during his Pontificate including Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American woman to be canonized by the church.

“He knew who he was before the Lord, without pretense or artifice,” Hying said. “May Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI know the eternal reward of his heroic earthly labors.”