Global leaders are paying homage to Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus, who died Saturday in Vatican City at the age of 95.
Benedict, who was the first pontiff in almost 600 years to resign his position, rather than hold office for life, passed away on Saturday, according to a statement from the Vatican.
“Saddened to learn of the demise of His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola tweeted Saturday.
“Europe mourns him. May he rest in peace.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday that the former pope “set a strong signal through his resignation.”
“Pope Benedict’s passing saddens me. My sympathy goes out to all Catholics,” von der Leyen said in a tweet, adding, “He had set a strong signal through his resignation. He saw himself first as a servant for God and his Church.”
“Once his physical strength waned, he continued to serve through the power of his prayers,” she continued.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute. “I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Sunak tweeted Saturday.
“He was a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country.
“My thoughts are with Catholic people in the UK and around the world today,” Sunak added.
UK Parliament Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said, “On behalf of the UK House of Commons, I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences and sorrow on receiving the news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict.”
Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni voiced her admiration for the former pope.
“Benedict XVI was a giant of faith and reason. He put his life at the service of the universal Church and spoke, and will continue to speak, to the hearts and minds of men with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual depth of his Magisterium,” she tweeted Saturday.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella described Pope Benedict XVI as an “unforgettable figure for the Italian people,” saying that Italy is in “bereavement” over his death.
His gentleness and wisdom were a blessing “for our community and the entire international community,” Mattarella said Saturday in a statement.
“With dedication he continued to serve the cause of his Church in the unprecedented capacity of Pope Emeritus with humility and serenity.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the former pope “was a special church leader for many.”
“As a ‘German’ Pope, Benedict XVI was a special church leader for many, not only in this country. The world loses a formative figure of the Catholic Church, an argumentative personality and a clever theologian. My thoughts are with Pope Francis,” Scholz tweeted.
Responding to Benedict’s passing, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer tweeted: “Together we Catholics mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
“He was a remarkable historical figure, a great scholar even at a young age. Benedict XVI was one of the few German-speaking heads of the Church and the first Pope of modern times, who resigned from office of his own accord.
“He had a particularly appreciative relationship with Austria; I remember well his visit to our country in 2007. May he rest in peace,” Nehammer added.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said his “thoughts” were with Catholics around the world after the former pope’s death.
“My thoughts are with the Catholics of France and the world, mourning the departure of His Holiness Benedict XVI, who worked with soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world,” Macron tweeted.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Catholics around the world have lost “an important spiritual and intellectual leader.”
“With the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Roman Catholic Church and all Catholics worldwide lose an important spiritual and intellectual leader. We remember him with respect,” Rutte tweeted.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela also sent his condolences to the Holy See on behalf of Malta’s government in a tweet, adding, “The people of Malta recall the visit of His Holiness, where he conveyed a message of unity.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the former Pope will be remembered for his “rich service to society.”
“Saddened by the passing away of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who devoted his entire life to the Church and the teachings of Lord Christ. He will be remembered for his rich service to society. My thoughts are with the millions around the world who grieve his passing,” Modi said in a tweet.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “saddened” by the former pope’s death.
“Saddened to hear of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, this evening. May he rest in eternal peace,” Albanese tweeted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is leading Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, called the former pope “a staunch defender of traditional Christian values.”
“I had the opportunity to communicate with this outstanding person, and I will forever keep the brightest memories of him. I would like to convey to you the words of sincere sympathy in this mournful hour,” he added.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres honored the former pope as “a humble man of prayer and study” who was “principled in his faith, tireless in his pursuit of peace, and determined in his defence of human rights.”
CNN’s Stephanie Halasz and Richard Roth contributed reporting.