Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died Saturday, the Vatican has confirmed in a statement, at the age of 95 following weeks of deteriorating health. The past week saw Vatican officials issue calls for prayer for the former Pope as he had become very sick. "With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible," the Vatican announced of his Dec.31 passing.
He had been elected head of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, which claims over a billion adherents, in 2005 and served as pontiff until 2013, when he stunned the world by voluntarily resigning. It had been the first time in nearly 600 years that a pope had stepped down, given throughout history they typically occupy the position until death.