EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI died on Saturday morning at the age of 95. He was the first pope in 600 years to resign.
Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Providence Diocese said Benedict was a kind, great man, and his examples of compassion and charity would be his lasting legacy.
“Throughout his life and ministry Pope Benedict served God and the Church with humility and generosity,” Tobin said in a statement.
“Pope Benedict was a world-class theologian who loved seeking and speaking the truth, and he taught the faith of the Church with the moral authority and doctrinal clarity so sorely needed today.”
Tobin said a Mass for Pope Benedict at will be held at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence on Thursday, January 5th at 12 p.m.
Bishop Edgar da Cunha of the Fall River Diocese said he met Benedict on several occasions, first in the United States in 2008, then in Italy in 2011.
“My first experience with him was when he came to the United States on his apostolic visit in 2008, meeting with all the bishops of the country and speaking to us at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington,” da Cunha said.
“The next day, I was blessed to be among the bishops who concelebrated Mass with him at the Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC., with thousands of people participating in what I consider a memorable experience.”
da Cunha added that Benedict was influential in many of the documents of Vatican II and his legacy will live on for generations to come.
“What remains so strongly with me from those meetings I had with him was his paternal attitude toward the bishops and his interest and care about our mission in our own dioceses. He showed amazing knowledge and great interest about what was happening in the world.”
Pope Francis will celebrate Pope Benedict XVI funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Thursday.