The Pope emeritus Benedict XVI died on 31 December 2022 at his residence, Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, in the Vatican. He was 95 years old. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in his customary speech, in the Throne Hall of the Patriarchal Residence, after the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Circumcision of the Lord and the memory of Saint Basil, during which he officiated on New Year’s morning in the Patriarchal Church in the Phanar, referred to the late Pope Benedict XVI:
“I would like to say two additional words of remembrance with respect and love and gratitude to the recently deceased Pope Benedict XVI, who at the beginning of his Pontifical Primate ministry officially visited our Ecumenical Patriarchate. Here, in this hall, we signed a joint declaration. We worked together repeatedly. When the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church met years ago in the Vatican, in the Sistine Chapel, he had invited me as the official keynote speaker to address the Cardinals and Bishops, on the subject of the Word of God, which took place in the context of a vespers that was celebrated in the Sistine Chapel. Benedict XVI was a great theologian, German by origin as you know, for a number of years a university professor, he also had orthodox students, among whom the later Archbishop of Australia Stylianos and the later Metropolitan of Switzerland Damascene, and I myself heard from Benedict saying that he got to know Orthodoxy better thanks to his Orthodox students, and in fact the aforementioned elite Orthodox theologians and Hierarchs. May his memory be eternal. He had the fortitude and courage to resign only eight years after his election as Bishop of Rome. He could go on because he was in good health, but he decided that he had to end the mandate, and that was about five hundred, six hundred years after the last Pope of Rome had resigned. At his funeral, which will take place next Thursday [5 January 2023], our Ecumenical Patriarchate will be represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and His Eminence Metropolitan Polykarpos of Italy. May his memory be eternal.“
His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent the following letter of condolence to the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope Francis, for the repose of his late predecessor Pope Benedict XVI:
It is with great sadness that as this year draws to a close and in anticipation of welcoming the New Year, we also bid farewell to Your direct predecessor on Saint Peter’s Throne of the Sister Church of Rome. We, therefore, offer to You, dear Brother, and to the entire Catholic Church the condolences of the Holy and Great Church of Constantinople, her hierarchs, and our personal commiserations in light of this loss.
While we know that our Brother, Pope Benedict XVI, suffered for the last few years, we acknowledge that he lived a full life, complete with both difficulties and countless blessings. However, his memorable contributions not only to Your Church, but in academia – being one of the greatest theologians of the 20thcentury – and in building bridges –evident in his commitment to dialogue, especially with the Orthodox Church – will undeniably leave their mark in history. Relatedly, we sincerely valued his visit to our Sacred Centre here at the Phanar in 2006 and cherished our numerous visits to him at the Vatican.
Once again, in fondly remembering this significant figure, we pray to the “God of all spirits and flesh, Who has trodden down death, destroying the power of the devil, bestowing life on Your world,” to grant eternal rest to his soul where the just repose.
Requiescat in pace! May his memory be eternal! Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη!
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 31st of December 2022
Fraternally Yours in the Lord,
✠ Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch