SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Vatican announced early Saturday morning that Pope Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95. He leaves behind the legacy of a quiet, yet strong defense of the Catholic teaching.
“He was a man of great prayer, but also of deep intellect,” expressed Bishop William Byrne of the Diocese of Springfield.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became pope in 2005, choosing the name Benedict XVI. He was the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign from the pontificate in 2013 after serving for eight years as the Holy Father.
22News spoke with Springfield Bishop William Byrne ahead of Benedict’s passing and he shared what Catholics believe about death.
“The moment of death is actually the moment of birth into eternal life, and he said that time and time again,” said Bishop Byrne.
Local Catholics are remembering the former Pope, and praying for the repose of his soul. Fr. Michael Pierz pastor of the Blessed Trinity Parish in Greenfield is one such person. He studied in Rome as a seminarian when Benedict was in papal office.
“Pope Benedict had a certainly different style than Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis today, but it was a style that was ordered towards sharing the great riches of the faith, sharing the great wisdom of the saints, and I was just so blessed to have been formed in that kind of environment,” said Fr. Michael Pierz.
Pope Francis will serve as celebrant of Benedict’s funeral Mass next week with the faithful across the world remembering the “humble worker.”
“Amidst the sadness on our end, we have to remember the great joy on behalf of those who pass from this life to the next. That in death, life has changed, it’s not ended,” concluded Bishop William Byrne.