- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 31, 2022

President Biden on Saturday praised Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI devotion to the Catholic Church and lasting legacy as a “renowned theologian” as he mourned the pontiff’s passing.

Benedict, who became the Pope to resign in 600 years, died earlier Saturday at the Vatican. He was 95.

“Jill and I join Catholics around the world, and so many others, in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Mr. Biden, a devout Catholic, said. “He will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith.”

Mr. Biden, who met with Benedict at the Vatican in 2011, said he would “always remember his generosity and welcome as well as our meaningful conversation” and hoped the late prelate’s “focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all.”

“May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all,” Mr. Biden said.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the president in praising Benedict’s devotion to the Catholic Church in a statement marking his passing. 

“Paul and I join our fellow Catholics in mourning the passing of Pope Benedict XVI: a global leader whose devotion, scholarship and hopeful message stirred the hearts of people of all faiths,” the Catholic Democrat form California said.

“Spiritually, I am always moved by Pope Benedict’s powerful encyclical, ‘God is Love,’ where he quotes St. Augustine highlighting our moral duty as public servants to fight for justice,” she said.

Both Mr. Biden and Mrs. Pelosi have, at times, been at odds with more conservative church leaders over her position in support of abortion.

As head of the Vatican’s doctrine office in 2004, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, advocated for denying communion to politicians that persistently support abortion.

Earlier this year, the archbishop of San Francisco, Mrs. Pelosi’s home diocese, pledged that he would not allow her to receive the sacrament given her views on abortion.

Mrs. Pelosi later received communion from the Church’s current leader, Pope Francis, during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica while visiting the Vatican over the summer.

“May it be comfort to His Holiness Pope Francis and the Vatican community that so many pray for Pope Benedict during this sad time,” she wrote.

Mrs. Pelosi led a chorus of other lawmakers in mourning the former Pope’s death. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he was “saddened” by Benedict’s passing, whom he praised as “a brilliant scholar and leading light for Catholics the world over.”

Rep. Stephanie L. Bice remarked on Benedict’s “tremendous impact on the Catholic Church.”

“He rooted himself in Christ and worked tirelessly to share God’s teachings and compassion with the world,” the Oklahoma Republican wrote on Twitter. “May he rest in peace.”

Rep. Andrew R. Garbarino, New York Republican, called Benedict’s death a great loss for Catholicism and for the world.”

Pope Benedict XVI was a true steward of the faith,” he wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Matthew M. Rosendale, Montana Republican, echoed his colleagues’ remorse while calling on fellow Catholics to “rejoice at his work and his guidance while he led the flock.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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