World leaders have started pouring in their tributes to the late Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.
The former pope died at the age of 95, the Vatican announced Saturday, almost a decade after he became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries.
His death brings to an end an unprecedented situation in which two “men in white” – Benedict and his successor Pope Francis – had co-existed within the walls of the tiny city-state.
Reacting to the news of his demise, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz paid tribute to the former pope, referring to him as a “special church leader” who helped shape the Catholic church.
“As a ‘German’ pope, Benedict XVI was a special church leader for many, not only this country,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.
“The world has lost a formative figure of the Catholic Church, an argumentative personality and a clever theologian.”
France’s President Emmanuel Macron praised him for his work towards a “more brotherly world”.
“My thoughts are with the Catholics of France and the world, bereaved by the departure of his holiness Benedict XVI, who strove with soul and intelligence for a more brotherly world,” he wrote on Twitter.
On his part, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that he was “saddened” by the death of the former pop, calling him a “great theologian”.
“I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Sunak tweeted. “He was a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country.”
Similarly, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed the former pope as a ‘giant of faith and reason’.
She said she had told current Pope Francis that she and her government shared his pain at the passing of “a Christian, a pastor, a theologian, a great figure in history, that history will never forget”.