Bishop of Scranton issues statement on death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Dec. 31—Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a German theologian who was the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died at age 95, the Vatican announced Saturday.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, bishop of Scranton, issued a statement reflecting on Pope Emeritus Benedict's writings, support for the Catholic church in the United States and efforts to unify Christians.

"Pope Emeritus Benedict will always be remembered as a great theologian-pope, not just because of the three encyclicals he wrote, but because of the intellectual precision he brought to all of his work, helping us to encounter God's love and truth," Bambera said. "For example, in Spe Salvi, (In hope we were saved), he beautifully stated that God is our foundation of hope, and it is his love alone that gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day."

Bambera continued: "In addition to being a strong supporter of the church in America, Benedict truly believed in fostering Christian unity as a fundamental priority of the worldwide church. From dialoging with Lutherans to his work with Anglicans, he made many efforts to see Christians fully united."

Regarding Benedict stepping down because of health reasons, Bambera said, "While much has been written about his historic renunciation, Benedict's actions showed great humility, selflessness and courage as he determined he no longer had the physical strength for the demands of the papacy."

Bambera also expressed gratitude to Benedict for having appointed him as bishop of Scranton.

"On a personal level, I thank Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for the trust and confidence he had in me when appointing me the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Scranton in February 2010. I will always treasure the opportunity to witness his humanity and devotion to Christ the following year during my first ad limina visit to the Vatican," Bambera said.

"I ask the people of the Diocese of Scranton to offer prayers for the peaceful repose of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's soul. May God grant him the gift of eternal life and bring comfort to those who mourn his passing," Bambera said.

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