‘He was a gentle soul’ Archbishop Pérez, Philadelphia Catholics pay tribute to Pope Benedict

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Catholics in Philadelphia paid tribute to former Pope Benedict XVI after hearing the news of his death on Saturday morning.

Mass in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul began with a prayer for Pope Benedict XVI, who died at the age of 95.

“I wasn’t particularly surprised, but the news was sad to hear the confirmation,” said Velma Clark, a Catholic.

News of his death came after Pope Francis asked for prayers for Benedict’s health earlier this week.

“I was sad for him at first, but then I realized that if we believe he has entered the heavenly abodes, we should be very happy for him,” said Fairmount’s Calan Baniewicz.

Tributes to the former Pope came from around the world, including from President Joe Biden, who is Catholic. He said of the former Pope: “He will be remembered as a distinguished theologian, with a lifelong dedication to the Church, guided by its principles and faith.”

Archbishop Nelson Pérez also paid tribute.

“I met him in person and he was a gentle soul,” Pérez said.

Pope Benedict was the first pope in 600 years to resign instead of remaining in office for life. The move stunned the world in 2013.

His resignation came amid criticism of his handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

“I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head what she would have said. She didn’t live to see his resignation, but she would have been very disappointed in the Church and the Pope,” said Aaron Treat from New York.

Archbishop Pérez called Benedict’s resignation an act of unprecedented selflessness and said he believed the pope had resigned for health reasons.

“He did the most loving thing. He did the most loving thing, the most heroic thing, he stepped down so someone can do better,” Perez said.

Archbishop Perez will preach a special Mass for Pope Benedict at the Basilica tomorrow morning at 11am

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Alley Einstein

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